INDIA: Mahindra opening Detroit technical centre

By Graeme Roberts | 21 September 2012

Mahindra & Mahindra, maker of utility vehicles, tractors, SUVs and owner of Ssangyong, is opening a technical centre near Detroit to supply engineering services to the huge US car industry.

Rajan Wadhera, Mahindra's chief executive for automotive technology and product development, told news agency AFP the new centre in Tory, Michigan, run by Mahindra Engineering Services, is the group's first such centre outside India.

They aim to have about 100 employees in the next six to eight months, company officials said.

"Because of its ties to the automobile industry and motor sports, Detroit is known as the motor city around the world. We wanted to be part of that culture," he said. Mahindra has already signed up General Motors, Navistar, Volvo and Bentley as clients for its engineering services, he added.

"The company also discovered southeastern Michigan is very competitive in terms of property costs and is the home to a very deep pool of engineering talent," he said.

Wadhera told AFP the company focus is on a "frugal" approach to engineering services. "We are able to innovate while designing in value," he said.

Other companies from emerging Indian and Chinese markets, notably Tata and Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp, also have set up office around Detroit, pursuing a growing business in selling their engineering services to the big US automakers.

Mahindra, which started in the 1940s building copies of the World War II era Willys Jeeps, is a leading auto builder in India, selling about 500,000 utility vehicles annually in India and other markets.

"We want to become one of the world's top 10 automotive brands by the end of the decade," Wadhera said.

Mahindra already has a tractor plant in Texas. But an effort launched four years ago to build a network of dealers and begin selling its own utility vehicles in the US market never went ahead, angering a number of the dealers.