Good Oil: Mahindra wants to make Detroit great again
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Call it madness or genius, but Indian giant Mahindra & Mahindra is setting up its US operation in ... Detroit. Didn’t it get the memo?
It’s the second go-around for the Indian firm in the US market after an unsuccessful attempt to sell the Pik-Up light commercial truck in 2010.
Now, however, the manufacturer is breaking ground on a factory to build cars. Not an unusual step in itself — making cars for the North American market in North America has worked well for the likes of Hyundai, Honda, BMW and others after all.
The location is more of a head-scratcher though. Rather than seek out a city that’ll offer massive tax incentives to ensure its factory is built nearby, Mahindra & Mahindra is actually investing many millions of dollars in separate assembly, logistics and warehousing facilities in the Greater Detroit area.
There’s no word on whether the City of Detroit has lobbied hard to get the Indian manufacturing giant through the gates, or if it even has the funds to do so. Probably not.
The last foreign carmaker to set up shop in the now-shunned former centre of American auto manufacturing was Mazda way back in 1987. And even that was only off the back of the Japanese company’s then-tight knit relationship with Ford.
Oh, and there is one other odd thing about Mahindra & Mahindra’s plan. Initially at least, it’s spending all this time and resources (US$200 million or thereabouts) not to build a mass-market SUV or compact crossover, nor even a tiny city car for congested urban areas.
No, it is building the Mahindra Roxor, its Jeep-style retro machine that can’t even be legally driven on public roads. Huh?
Actually, it’s part of a ploy to win a US$6 billion contract to build small mail carrier vehicles for the US Postal Service. Should the company be successful, it’ll certainly be in the money; and not reliant on a single model that’ll appeal only to budget-minded off-roading enthusiasts and postal workers.
It will introduce production of other vehicles — probably most likely the XUV, er, SUV — over time.
It seems like a win-win for Detroit ... as long as the factory doesn’t have all its roofing materials stolen for scrap metal during the build, of course.
Jeep is product planning. And planning, and planning and planning...
Speaking of Jeeps — actual Jeeps that is, rather than dodgy clones — the American carmaker has declared it’s going new car nuts (okay, our term not theirs), with nine new or updated models to be unveiled in the next four years.
The slot-grille brand will even be introducing a new vehicle smaller than the Renegade. The latter will also be updated, as will the Compass and Cherokee.
Inevitably there will be a bunch of plug-in hybrid powertrains retrofitted into existing models, too. An electric Wrangler? Hmm, perhaps not as far-fetched as it sounds.
There will be a new Grand Cherokee, although what we’re really excited about is the return of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer nameplates to the mix.
We doubt wood veneer custom inserts will be on the options list, but these two additions to the Jeep line-up will be the big daddies in size and sumptuousness.
Also, Jeep is pushing hard in the Chinese market, with two unspecified China-only models likely to be unveiled there. What those will be is anyone’s guess ... long-wheelbase vehicles tick a lot of boxes for the Chinese market, but with the four-door Wrangler Unlimited already available and the XL-sized Grand Wagoneer on the way, it seems less likely pure vehicle length will dictate the China-specific Jeeps.
One through-line with all the impending new models is that none of them will feature diesel engines. Jeep has declared it’ll be diesel-free from now on.
Lego Bugatti Chiron is 3599 pieces of awesome
Is June too early to put a Christmas present order in? Here’s the new Lego Technic flagship model, a rather fantastic Bugatti Chiron, with active rear wing, speed key (the thing you insert into a special slot in the real car to make it go even faster) and moving pistons in the scale model W16 engine.
The Lego Chiron also features a working gearbox with steering-wheel mounted shift paddles, a bespoke overnight bag stored in its front boot, and is finished in Bugatti’s signature two-tone blue-on-blue.
It is 56cm long, 25cm wide and 14cm high and is 3599 pieces of awesome (that’s precisely 899 parts more than the previous halo model in the Lego Technic range, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS).
Every part is an existing Lego piece except for the wheels, which mimic the real car’s.
Oh, and it gets even cooler: tucked away under the engine cover is a unique serial number, which owners can use to unlock hidden content on Lego’s online Technic site.
It goes on sale in August and isn’t cheap at £329.99 plus shipping.
But it’s still cheaper than the real $2.5 million deal, so utterly justified.