DETROIT -- India's Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. today opened a technical center in suburban Detroit, the conglomerate's first in North America.
The center will provide design and consulting services for Mahindra's automotive customers in the region as well as support its automotive and tractor engineering operations in India.
Mahindra, India's largest tractor and SUV maker, has sold tractors in the United States since 1994.
Plans to sell a compact diesel pickup in the United States have fallen through, but Mahindra still wants to become a top 10 global automaker by 2020. Mahindra executives said today they plan to target the global entry level, B and C segments.
Mahindra Engineering Services' clients include General Motors, Daimler, BMW, Volvo, Bentley and Navistar, company executives said.
Mahindra also considered locations in Illinois, as well as in England, and Germany for the technical center.
It chose the Detroit suburb of Troy because southeastern Michigan is a hub for automotive culture and enthusiasts, Mahindra Engineering Services CEO Prashant Kamat said.
The technical center initially will employ 25 engineers. Staffing could rise to 50.
Mahindra's plans to sell the pickup in the United States failed in 2010 when the company's U.S. distribution and marketing agreement with Global Vehicles U.S.A of Atlanta ended.
Global Vehicles' CEO and some of the dealers who had signed to sell Mahindra vehicles unsuccessfully sought legal recourse.
In June a group of franchisees filed a new lawsuit against Mahindra in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, alleging that the company deceived them when it said it intended to sell a pickup in the United States.
A spokesman for the dealers said they were suing to recoup damages caused by the failed project, not to press Mahindra into delivering vehicles, Automotive News reported in July.
Mahindra sells cars, pickups and commercial vehicles in Australia, Europe, Latin America, Malaysia and South Africa.
The company also plans to sell vehicles to Russia in about two years, and is talking with Russian distributors.