NASHVILLE -- John Perez, who has been trying to introduce India-built Mahindra diesel pickups to America for four years, is taking Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. to court to push it to deliver the trucks.
Perez told dealers in a phone conference last week that he fears Mahindra might further delay U.S. introduction of its pickups beyond December. A senior Mahindra executive set that date last month, after missing three previous launch dates.
"Since EPA certification has not been obtained, we were worried the delays would continue," Perez told the dealers, according to a transcript of the statement obtained by Automotive News and confirmed by individuals who were on the phone call.
"We want to begin sales in December as Mahindra stated to the press on May 17th," Perez said, according to the transcript. "Our sole intent was to get Mahindra focused on not missing another deadline. We simply wanted to protect you, our dealers, and your investment in the Mahindra brand."
Perez used the phone call to explain why his independent company, Global Vehicles U.S.A. Inc., filed for an injunction against the Indian manufacturer on June 16.
On June 11, Global requested arbitration with Mahindra in Britain to resolve 10 months of feuding between the companies. Global then filed for the injunction in U.S. District Court in Atlanta to force Mahindra to continue working toward its U.S. market launch while arbitration is under way.
To enter the U.S. market, Mahindra must submit a formal application to the EPA proving that its compact clean-diesel pickups will meet U.S. emission standards for 2011.
But in its U.S. court complaint, Global says that Mahindra has failed to execute the necessary application. The complaint says that Mahindra has delayed the process by pressing Global for financial details about its U.S. operations and has rejected Global's preliminary vehicle sales projections.
The injunction asks that Mahindra be prohibited from seeking another U.S. distributor and from attempting to communicate directly with any of the retailers who have signed up with Global to sell the Mahindra pickups.
Global says that it has approximately 350 retailers who have invested a combined $60 million in stores and franchise rights.
In his phone call to dealers, Perez said that the dispute will not sour the relationship between Global and Mahindra. "It has been my experience in working the past four years with Mahindra," he told dealers, according to the text, "once there is an agreement, they shake your hand, no hard feelings, and everything is back to business as usual."