More than 300 prospective dealers thought they would be selling Mahindra pickups by now.
But truckmaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. has missed its third launch target. And no one at the Indian automaker or its U.S. sales affiliate -- usually eager to discuss the bold plan to be the first Indian automaker to sell products here -- can say when the trucks, which now are being field tested, will arrive.
Dealers such as Chip Bennett, a partner with Sarasota, Fla., Land Rover dealer Jack Urfer in a new $1 million showroom there, planned to launch Mahindra sales in February or March, the company's latest target. That was a revision of a December 2009 goal -- which was the date set after Mahindra missed its original target of mid-2009.
Critical issues such as service technician training and parts distribution remain murky. Retail financing is another key question, although one source familiar with the issue says a deal has been struck with a major U.S. financial institution to provide captive financing.
Despite all the uncertainty, dealers contacted around the country remain upbeat about the plan to retail a brawny, compact, four-cylinder, clean-diesel pickup that claims fuel economy nearly double that of its larger U.S. competitors.
"You will see Mahindra here this summer," Bennett vows. "I'm totally confident of that. And I think very soon we'll be hearing all the details."