Mahindra is coming … maybe

If you asked overlanders from around the world what they want in a 4×4 vehicle, they wouldn’t ask for much. The majority would say all they want is a reasonably lightweight, durable, affordable, fuel-efficient, four-wheel drive, diesel-powered truck built for capability rather than frills. Unfortunately, a quick survey of trucks sold in the U.S. market matching that description brings up exactly zero results. Toyota, Land Rover, Jeep and Ford all make these types of vehicles for the rest of the world, but none are sold on North American shores.

Enter Mahindra, an Indian vehicle manufacturer, who is working on bringing exactly that vehicle into the U.S. Mahindra currently has a two-door pick-up, four-door pick-up and SUV slated for import into North America. General specs for the pick-ups include:

  • 2.2L four-cylinder common rail diesel (CRD) engine
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • The two-door pick-up sports a 7.5’ long bed with more than a 2,700 lb. payload capacity (The four-door sports a shorter bed with more than a 2,600 lb. payload capacity)
  • 119.7” wheel base
  • 8.3” ground clearance in stock form
  • Traction control and electronic stability control
  • Estimated 30 mpg
  • Four-year, 60,000 mile warranty

While Mahindra may be a new name to Americans, it is by no means a new company. Mahindra can trace its vehicle building roots back to 1954 assembling general purpose utility vehicles (aka jeeps) as a franchise for Willys.

It doesn’t appear as if the Mahindras will have as high a level of interior appointment as the leather wrapped everything found on many current American pick-ups. However, they will come standard with power windows and locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, airbags, and an audio system that includes a CD player, SD card slot and iPod adapter.

Pangaea can confirm that there is at least one four-door Mahindra pick-up out on U.S. roads as we have seen it near our offices in the Colorado mountains. From 50 feet and 50 miles per hour, it looks pretty good. We sincerely hope to be equally impressed when we drive one, which Global Vehicles – the hopeful U.S. importer for Mahindra – assures us will be “soon.”

So when can you buy one? Well, that remains the $64,000 question. The release of the Mahindra has been long delayed–their initial release target was mid-2008. Two and half years later there is still no firm on-sale date, putting this truck in Duke Nukem Forever territory. Recent press releases state that Mahindra has obtained EPA certification for sale in the U.S., a major step towards U.S. sales, but there have also been legal wranglings between parent company Mahindra and their importer Global Vehicles USA. Hopefully, they can get their differences settled and we can see more than the occasional test Mahindra on U.S. soil. This is a truck that, on paper at least, looks like a great potential expedition vehicle. We can’t wait to get our hands on one, but we’re not holding our breath either.

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