Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra
Mahindra Group said it is considering entering the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest auto markets, with high-end electric vehicles made by its Italian affiliate Pininfarina.
“We’re exploring right now the potential of building an electric supercar, which will be branded Pininfarina,” said Chairman Anand Mahindra in an interview. “Certainly, we’re looking to sell it in the U.S. We’re very bullish on the American market.”
“When you sell cars in the US,” he said, “it forces you to be the most competitive.” Mr. Mahindra is in Seoul for the 2017 Seoul Motor Show.
The company will also will look to enter China, the world’s No. 1 auto market and a good one for high-end performance cars, through Pininfarina, he said. Mahindra, which makes airplanes, cars and tractors, acquired the Italian auto-design specialist, best known for a historical relationship with Ferrari RACE, in a €25.5 million ($28.1 million) deal in 2015. Pininfarina’s designs have long been copied by other global auto makers.
Mahindra said the group aims to enhance its investments and presence in the U.S. largely through its South Korean auto unit, Ssangyong Motor Co. He said the auto group would “double its bets” in the U.S. but declined to reveal specific amounts.
A number of global auto makers, under heat from President Donald Trump to make more vehicles in the U.S., have announced increased investments there. Among them, Hyundai Motor Co. said in January that it would invest up to $3.1 billion in its U.S. manufacturing facilities and is considering building a new plant there.
Ssangyong Motor Chief Executive Choi Johng-sik said Thursday that the company is preparing for a U.S. entry but would take at least three years to complete its decision. More immediately, Mr. Choi said, Ssangyong is considering building a plant in China, with a decision expected by midyear.
Ssangyong, which specialises in sport-utility vehicles, in October signed an initial joint-venture agreement with China’s Shaanxi Automobile Group Co., the country’s fourth-largest maker of heavy-duty trucks by output.
Ssangyong last year posted its first profit since it was acquired by Mahindra in bankruptcy proceedings in March 2011.
“There were many people questioning our wisdom for making investment in Ssangyong,” Mr. Mahindra said. “But it’s now the third-largest company in the Mahindra Group in terms of revenue.”
Ssangyong, whose revival was helped by its first compact SUV, the Tivoli, in Seoul unveiled the G4 Rexton, the latest version of its largest SUV model. Mr. Mahindra said it will be sold globally, including in India, one of Asia’s fastest growing auto markets.
Source: The Wall Street Journal