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Hindustan Motors Long-Lived Ambassador May be Dead

Maker cites poor sales, low productivity, massive debt.

by on May.28, 2014

Hindustan Motors shut down production of its long-running Ambassador sedan. The King of Indian Roads was produced for more than 55 years.

Ford Mustang fans in the U.S. and mavens around the world have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first pony car. However, in India, many are mourning the apparent death of a car with an even longer history: the Hindustan Ambassador.

While the Mustang has carried on through several iterations – some better received than others – the Ambassador hasn’t changed much since its introduction in 1958. Despite its British origins, the Ambassador is called “The King of Indian roads.”

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A clunky looking sedan with a bulbous front end, the car – known affectionately as the “Amby” – has been the preferred mode of transport for politicians and celebrities alike in India since it was introduced more than 55 years ago. (more…)

Tata Bringing World’s Cheapest Car to US Market

But will Americans say no-no to Nano?

by on Oct.15, 2012

Can Tata Make a Nano that Americans would take seriously? It apparently wants to try.

Americans will soon get the chance to buy what is generally considered the world’s most inexpensive automobile.  But considering the safety problems experienced by the little Tata Nano – which has received only a mixed reception in its home Indian market – it’s anyone’s guess whether U.S.  motorists will say yes or no-no to the microcar.

The Nano is the work of Tata, one of India’s biggest industrial conglomerates and parent to a carmaking division with aggressive global aspirations.  Along with the homegrown Tata brand it also owns both the British Jaguar and Land Rover marques.

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There’s no confusing their products, however.  The original Tata Nano is a step up from a motor scooter, with only the most minimal creature comforts and a severe lacking of safety features, as well, according to critics.


India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Sets up Shop in Detroit

But will they ever open an American dealership?

by on Sep.19, 2012

Mahindra scrubbed plans to sell the Pik-Up in the U.S. - but could something else follow?

Is the long-delayed U.S. debut of Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra finally back on track?

Mumbai-based Mahindra &Mahindra Ltd. is opening a technical center near Detroit as part of plans to become a global automaker. The move comes several years after the maker originally promised to wade into the American market with its first light truck models.  But lawsuits stemming from the canceled launch could pose an obstacle for Mahindra’s future plans.

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Rajan Wadhera, chief executive officer for technology and product development for Mahindra’ automotive and farm equipment sectors, said the new office operated by Mahindra Engineering Services is the first automotive-oriented technical center the Mahindra Group has opened outside of India.
Mahindra selected the Detroit suburb of Troy for the site over rival locations in Illinois, Netherlands, Germany and Italy, he said.


India’s Mahindra Sued by Would-Be Dealers

U.S. sales launch 4 years behind schedule and counting.

by on Jun.07, 2012

This would-be Mahindra dealer in Mt. Clemens, Michigan eventually found another franchise.

While few motorists seem concerned that India’s Mahindra & Mahindra’s U.S. launch is four years behind schedule – and counting – the delay has enraged plenty of potential dealers who reportedly ponied up millions of dollars in advance fees to reserve the franchise.

A Miami-based law firm has now stepped in and has filed suit against the Indian maker in federal court alleging fraud and misrepresentation.  The lawyers at Diaz Reus & Targ claim Mahindra walked away with an estimated $9.5 million cash and additional trade secrets.

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“Mahindra told the dealers that its light trucks and SUVs were ready for delivery to the U.S. market,” said attorney Michael Diaz in a press release detailing the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on behalf of would-be dealers in five states including Florida. “However, Mahindra intentionally delayed certification of its vehicles after obtaining the dealership fees and trade secrets, and began pursuing other partners in the U.S. and elsewhere in clear violation of their commitments.”


First Look: Tata Pixel Urban Concept Car

This car really does rotate on a dime.

by on Mar.03, 2011

Based on the Nano, the Tata Pixel measures just 10 feet in length and can turn on its own axis thanks to a unique rear wheel design.

Things don’t always go the way they’re planned during auto show previews, as Indian mega-industrialist Ratan Tata discovered during the news conference held by his eponymous Tata Motors at the Geneva Motor Show.

Tata came to the event to watch the debut of his company’s Pixel show car, which it bills as a “concept for a European city car.”  Things went perfectly well until it was time to open the electrically-operated scissor doors.  Suddenly things shorted out in the electronic control panel hidden under the rear hatch, sending nervous technicians scurrying to do a quick re-wiring.

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The brief setback didn’t chase the crowds away, however.  If anything, Tata has gotten plenty of attention since launching the world’s cheapest – and one of the smallest – automobiles, a few years back.  And while the Nano is very much “a car for India,” the Pixel “is a car for the world,” asserted Carl-Peter Forster, the former Opel chief who now runs Tata Motors.

As is immediately obvious, the Nano serves as the starting point for the new Tata Pixel, though it has clearly been refined to meet Western sensibilities.  But size still matters.

Even with the front seats in a normal position, the Tata Pixel offers surprising interior space.

Though only 10 feet, nose-to-tail, the Pixel fits four adults in reasonable comfort thanks to a flexible interior design and a tall roof that allows for upright seating.

Even more intriguing than the swing-up doors, the little coupe uses a system in which the rear wheels rotate in opposite directions, allowing the Pixel to turn on its own axis when parking.

Assisting is something the Indian maker describes as a Zero Turn turoidal traction-drive Infinitely Variable Transmission.

A technician struggles to fix the controls for the Pixel's malfunctioning scissor doors.

The Tata Pixel’s 1.2-liter 3-cylinder turbodiesel gets a stop/start system to eliminate wasteful idling.  That helps it achieve an estimated 60 mpg, according to the maker.

While the stop/start technology is the most likely system to actually make the jump from the concept stage, Forster told that a production version of the Nano-based Pixel “is do-able.”

How long?  It would likely take two to three years, the German executive said as he watched with relief when the electric doors finally began to swing open.

Mahindra Using Loophole to Abandon U.S. Distributor

Indian pickup maker and erstwhile American distributor facing legal battle.

by on Sep.09, 2010

Mahindra's launch of the Pik-Up has so far been delayed four times.

With its planned American debut still indefinitely delayed, Indian automaker Mahindra is taking unfair advantage of an escape clause in its contract with U.S. distributor Global Vehicles USA to terminate their relationship, GV USA CEO John Perez claims.

Perez says Mahindra is attempting to claim exclusive ownership of the distribution and sales channel ahead of the arrival of its small diesel pickup in the United States, a development that has been expected for the last 18 months.

Mahindra officials in India did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.

GV USA and Mahindra are fighting in arbitration and in federal court over repeated delays getting Mahindra’s clean-diesel pickup certified for sale in the U.S. At the same time, Mahindra has issued two press releases stating that its relationship with GV USA has “expired.”

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Mahindra’s clean-diesel pickups were expected to go on sale in the U.S. by the first quarter of 2009 but their arrival now has been pushed back four times; the latest on-sale date is reportedly this December.

(Click Here for’s review of the Mahindra Pik-Up.)

Driving Tata Nano: Will Americans Accept Its Limitations?

Indian price of $2,500 would likely more than double here.

by on Aug.11, 2010

The relatively luxurious Tata Nano LX.

The little four-seater proves reasonably adept as we pull away from the Grand Traverse Resort.  It’s not registered for U.S. roads, so we have to stick to the sprawling complex’s service roads, but they’re long and quick enough to give us a sense of what to expect from one of the most well-publicized cars in the world.

The Tata Nano is not only the cheapest car on the road, but also one of the smallest.  At 122 inches, nose-to-tail, it’s barely a foot longer than the Smart fortwo – even with its two back seats.  And, at just 1,500 pounds, it weighs about 300 pounds less than the Franco-German Smart.

That helps the little Nano make do with a miniscule 624-cc (0.6 liter) two-cylinder engine making 35 horsepower.  Whether it can take the fortwo in a drag race is uncertain, though the Nano certainly won’t leave a patch of rubber.  But rated at 56 mpg – with a 4-gallon gas tank giving it a theoretical range of 224 miles – one might forgive its less-than-stellar performance. (more…)

Mahindra and Mahindra Goes Electric

Indian maker sees opportunity in mass market battery cars.

by on May.27, 2010

Mahindra & Mahindra's first entry into the U.S. is likely to be this pickup, but it isn't saying what models will eventually go electric.

The ambitious Indian vehicle builder Mahindra & Mahindra has entered the race to build a mass market electric vehicle by buying a majority interest in the REVA Electric Vehicle Company of Bangalore, India.

The new partnership, Mahindra REVA, will leverage Mahindra’s vehicle development expertise and open the door for REVA technology to be deployed in Mahnindra-designed vehicles, says the automaker, which has delayed its long-anticipated entry into the U.S. market as it finalizes work on a pair of light truck offerings.

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“The buyout makes the Mahindra group a strong global player in the electric vehicle space,” said Pawan Goenka, President Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra, who will serve as the chairman of the Mahindra REVA board.  The board will include five nominees from Mahindra & Mahindra, two from the Maini family, the founders of REVA, and one representative from REVA’s  American partner. AEV LLC.

First Drive: Mahindra Pik-Up

Indian maker hopes to curry interest of American truck buyers.

by on Aug.27, 2009

Indian automaker Mahinda plans to begin marketing two models in the U.S., including the Pik-Up.

Indian automaker Mahinda plans to begin marketing two models in the U.S., including two versions of the Pik-Up, and an SUV.

It’s been more than two years since we first heard Mahindra was bringing small diesel pickups to the U.S. During that time we’ve covered a steady stream of news about the Indian company and its American distributor Global Vehicles U.S.A., but we’ve most wanted to know: How will these trucks perform and can they live up to the high expectations of American truck buyers?

To find out we drove two foreign-market Mahindra trucks – a left-hand drive version of the recently updated Australian Pik-Up and a Scorpio SUV – down near Atlanta earlier this week.

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The two trucks aren’t identical to the rigs that will go on sale here – the two-door TR20 and four-door TR40 pickups (coming in February) and the SUV (due later in 2010) – but they’re close enough so that the single cab Pik-Up and “mHawk” diesel-powered Scorpio with a six-speed automatic give us a reasonable idea of what the stateside pickup’s powertrain will be like.