‘Our intent is to be a global player in the transportation segment’

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on January 21, 2016

RICH ANSELL, Head of Marketing, Mahindra North American Technical Centre

Our over 60 years of experience… gives credibility to solutions we can offer: MNATC’s Ansell

Mahindra & Mahindra’s research and development centre in Detroit, the Mahindra North American Technical Center (MNATC), has added a feather to its cap. MNATC has made it past the first round of the US Postal Service’s bidding process, to win a contract estimated at $5 billion for the purchase of 1.8 lakh vehicles.

MNATC is M&M's first technical centre in the US.

The team at MNATC conceptualises, designs and develops vehicles for Mahindra Automotive and collaborates with Mahindra innovation centres in Europe and Asia. MNATC was responsible for the US Postal Service bid.

Almost a dozen companies, including automobile majors, defence contractors and electric vehicle start-ups, are among contenders to make the next-generation vehicles. Rich Ansell, Head of Marketing at Mahindra North American Technical Centre, told BusinessLine, in an e-mailed interview, that the company is in the midst of developing an engineering proposal for the next phase of the project.

Why did Mahindra bid to make the US Postal Service (USPS) vehicles? What is the interest, and how does the company's skill position it to make postal vehicles?

Our interest in the USPS opportunity is consistent with our intent to be a global player in the transportation segment.

Our heritage of manufacturing tough and rugged commercial vehicles that meet long-term durability requirements, we believe, uniquely qualifies us to meet the USPS’ 20-year durability requirement. And our 60+ years of experience engineering right-hand-drive vehicles (USPS delivery trucks are right-hand-drive) in both two-and four-wheel drive configurations gives immediate credibility to the solutions we can offer.

Has Mahindra been shortlisted to make the vehicles that are set to replace General Motors’ Grumman LLVs? What does this say for the calibre of the company?

Mahindra was selected to participate in the second round of proposal development by the USPS. Our initial proposal went into the detail on Mahindra’s design, engineering and manufacturing experience in the commercial vehicle sector.

We believe, the fact that the USPS selected us for the next round of development, despite the fact that we are less known to them than some of the other manufacturers, validates our capability and experience.

Which are the other companies in the fray?

Some of the other companies involved include Ford, Fiat/Chrysler, Nissan, Utilimaster, Morgan Olsen, and AM General.

What is the size of the order?

180,000 vehicles spread over a five-year period

When is a final decision likely on the order? Has the company already built a prototype?

Final sourcing decision is expected in 2018. We are in the midst of developing an engineering proposal for the next phase of the project.

Defence contractors as well as electric vehicle start-ups are also supposedly in the fray. Since Mahindra straddles all three segments, how best is the company suited to carry out the order?

We believe it will come down to whoever offers the best total value proposition, which will be a combination of price, functional features and the ability to meet the dependability and durability these trucks will need.

The fact that we have 60+ years of experience developing complete vehicles, positions us well against those whose experience and capabilities might be a bit more narrow.

Will the company be looking for tie-ups or partnerships to take this order ahead, or will it go alone?

We continue to evaluate a number of different strategic scenarios that would allow us the best opportunity to maximise our chances of success.

Would Mahindra be looking to set up a new facility in the US to make the vehicles?

Our plan is to assemble these vehicles in the US, and we are evaluating a number of potential scenarios at this time.

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Published on January 21, 2016
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