Auto Expo 2018: Mahindra & Mahindra’s answer to Tesla is being readied in Turin | Hindustan Times
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Auto Expo 2018: Mahindra & Mahindra’s answer to Tesla is being readied in Turin

Mahindra & Mahindra will take call in two months before making formal announcement, says the company’s MD Pawan Goenka.

AutoExpo2018 Updated: Feb 08, 2018 11:59 IST
Amrit Raj
Tesla, owned by billionaire Elon Musk and headquartered in the US, makes luxury sports electric cars which are renowned for their range, innovation and styling.
Tesla, owned by billionaire Elon Musk and headquartered in the US, makes luxury sports electric cars which are renowned for their range, innovation and styling. (REUTERS)

In two months’ time, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd will decide on whether to roll out a car that could turn out to be the Indian company’s answer to Tesla in the luxury electric car space.

The company will be taking a final decision two months from now before making a formal announcement, its managing director (MD) Pawan Goenka said.

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“(We are) working on it… the last time that we talked about it, we had said we will be doing feasibility... a lot of work has happened and I think within… I would like to say two months, we should be able to make a final decision and then announce,” Goenka said.

In pursuit of a luxury brand, Mahindra decided to develop and sell products from Pininfarina, a Turin-based design and engineering company that it acquired in December 2015 for around $185 million. Pininfarina will develop an electric sports car and sell it under its own badge, Mint reported in March 2017

“...the product is clearly not a mass market product. What we are looking at is a high-end product for personal use and it is not a commercial use product,” Goenka added.

Pininfarina has a storied past and is known for its classic designs for Ferrari, Fiat and Alfa Romeo in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as more recent work for Bentley, BMW and Maserati. The death of its patriarch Sergio Pininfarina in 2012 and financial trouble dating back to 2008 led to its sale.

Goenka’s intent to have a luxury electric car in the Mahindra stable is vindicated by a clutch of new generation companies introducing products to compete with Tesla globally.

“I think in China, NIO launched one product just last month, which is supposed to be better than Tesla at a lower price. There is Faraday Future that’s working on it. There is Lucid that is working on it. NIO is working on it for the US. There are many... So in 3-4 years from now you will see a lot of products in the $80,000-100,000 range,” Goenka added.

Tesla’s cars start at $101,000 in the US.

In the past, Mahindra has bid for luxury brands such as Aston Martin, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover. It now seems to have changed its strategy and decided to grow Pininfarina into a luxury brand by leveraging the Italian firm’s legacy.

Globally, auto firms have followed two strategies to tap luxury car customers: Volkswagen AG, for instance, bought Audi AG and hyper luxury brand Bugatti; others like Honda Motor Co. Ltd, Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. have developed Acura, Lexus, Infiniti and Genesis brands, respectively, to compete with prominent luxury carmakers. Closer home, Tata Motors Ltd bought Jaguar Land Rover from Ford Motor Co. in 2007.