M&M opens $230-m manufacturing facility in Detroit

Raghuvir Srinivasan Detroit | Updated on January 09, 2018

Anand Mahindra (file photo)

Will roll out in early 2018 off-highway vehicle Roxor

Automotive major Mahindra & Mahindra broke fresh ground as an Indian multinational when it inaugurated its factory in the original Land of Automobile Manufacture, Detroit.

As Executive Chairman, Anand Mahindra, and the Lt. Governor of Michigan, Brian Calley, cut the ribbon to declare open the plant of Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA), they heralded the first investment in 25 years in a new OEM operation in Detroit.

That this is a major breakthrough for the city, which was badly hit by the financial and housing crisis, was evident from the official turnout at the inauguration. Two members of Congress, the Michigan Lt. Governor and a State Department official were all not only in attendance but also spoke evocatively about the investment.

M&M has invested $230 million and created 250 jobs in the plant, which will have a capacity to produce 10,000 units of Roxor, an off-highway vehicle.

MANA will invest another $600 million in the facility by 2020, adding a further 400 jobs.

The Roxor, designed and developed by MANA, was not unveiled but Richard P Haas, President and CEO, MANA, said that it would be launched in the market early 2018.

Speaking at the inauguration, Anand Mahindra struck a personal note on how he first came to the US in 1973 as a freshman student and how this was his way of giving back to the country for all that he had learnt as a student, which he said he had applied in his business.

Answering a question at a media interaction on whether the next step is to enter the US utility vehicles market Mahindra said that it is “not imminent, though it remains an aspiration”.

“Americans are familiar with Korean brands and the logical step is for Korean group company Ssangyong to come in with its models. But it is for the Ssangyong board to take the call,” he said.

Richard Haas added: “We're watching how people react to the brand and are preparing for different scenarios. Over the next year or two we'll learn, understand and move forward.”

Mahindra emphasised that MANA was not playing the volumes game saying that sometimes scarcity works better and that the days of requiring enormous scale to succeed are over.

He explained the rationale for the business as bringing together the engineering expertise of Detroit and a start-up culture.

“We've created an incubator here — Richard (Haas) has come with rich start-up experience from Tesla and the operation is based in Detroit to leverage conventional manufacturing skills. MANA will be an asset-light operation with a start-up mentality.”

(This correspondent is in Detroit at the invitation of M&M)

Published on November 21, 2017

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