The motto might also apply to the Indian automaker’s latest attempt to enter the US auto market - an effort Haas, a former executive at Ford Motor Co and Tesla Inc, is leading. A decade ago, Mahindra tried to break in to the US market with a low-cost pickup truck. The foray ended in failure and a lawsuit from dealers demanding their franchise fees back.
Haas, the automaker’s North American chief executive, says this time Mahindra has a more cautious “pay-as-you-go strategy.” Instead of starting with a truck or passenger car, Mahindra is reintroducing its brand with the Roxor, a vehicle that looks like a vintage Jeep. Mahindra has built around 3,000 off-road Roxors and is using the model, which starts at around $15,000, to demonstrate to American consumers and dealers “acutely aware of our previous experience” here that the Indian automaker can build a reliable product before it launches mainstream models for use on American roads, Haas said. “Getting burned makes you cautious,” Haas said.
Rich prospects, big risks
Mahindra is one of a handful of European and Asian automakers gearing up to enter the US market in hopes of gaining sales as well as credibility that can boost their brands at home. France’s PSA and China’s Zotye and GAC all have outlined plans for establishing beachheads in the world’s second-largest market by sales, which offers rich pickings in segments including pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers.
But the US is a mature market that most industry executives say is heading for a downturn, and it is already crowded with over 40 automotive brands and 300-plus models on sale. “There’s not a line waiting out the front door of every potential newcomer to North America of people saying ‘I cannot wait for a new car to show up here today,’” said Larry Dominique, N American head PSA.