Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. plans to sell SUVs and pickups, two segments whose sales are plummeting this year as gasoline prices have skyrocketed.
But William Goetze, president of Mahindra's U.S. importer — Global Vehicles U.S.A. Inc., of Alpharetta, Ga. — says the dealers remain enthusiastic about launching U.S. sales in nine months.
He says he expects most of his committed 315 retailers to be selling the light trucks from temporary showrooms or under shared dealership roofs at next spring's launch.
The dealers agreed to pay $125,000 to $195,000 for franchise rights. Goetze is not requiring stand-alone dealerships for Mahindra vehicles.
He estimated that 25 dealers are building new facilities.
"The dealers who finalize all their plans will be the first to get vehicles," he added.
Steve Taylor, a Toledo, Ohio, Cadillac-Hyundai-Kia dealer, says he has bought property in Toledo to build a Mahindra store but is reviewing architecture plans for the proposed deal-ership.
"I'm very enthusiastic about Mahindra," Taylor said. "Yes, truck sales are down. But Mahindra will offer something the market needs: a truck with good fuel economy."
The Mahindra lineup initially will consist of a pickup in two- and four-door versions and a four-door SUV, all with four-cylinder diesel engines.
The Indian-made vehicles will use a new generation of diesels that must meet more stringent EPA guidelines on emissions.