GENEVA -- Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian truckmaker that has so far failed in its attempt to export pickups to the United States, may find its way to the U.S. market after all -- through a Korean company, not an Atlanta distributor.
Ssangyong Motor Co., a Korean SUV specialist now controlled by Mahindra, plans to sell vehicles in the United States in two to five years, Chairman Yoo Lee told Automotive News.
Ssangyong, in which Mahindra recently bought a 70 percent stake, sees a sales potential of up to 20,000 units a year in the United States and wants to enter the market "two to three years from now -- but within five years at the latest," Lee said at the Geneva auto show. "We still need time to fulfill all strict emission and safety regulations."
Lee said the United States is a pillar in Ssangyong's strategy to double global sales from the expected 120,000 units this year to 240,000 by 2014, filling the capacity of its Korean plant.
That's good news for Mahindra, which last month completed the purchase of the Ssangyong stake. Mahindra bought control of the SUV specialist from Ssangyong's creditors after the previous controlling owner, China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., pulled out.
Mahindra, India's largest manufacturer of SUVs and tractors, originally had planned to begin U.S. sales in mid-2009, but that target has been pushed back repeatedly.