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Driving Impressions

 

Mahindra Pikup utility

 

Here come the Indians!


by Stephen Walker


2nd July, 2007

 

Team member, Ken Walker 
with a Mahindra Pikup line-up, out in the bush 
Location: Bowral, NSW

From India comes the new Mahindra Pikup, a utility aimed at all light commercial vehicle buyers. The company had a short and unsuccessful attempt at selling vehicles in Australia back in the early 1990s. However, the new marketing moves are bound to be rewarded. This view is based on the fact that the vehicle is better suited to the market than the original attempt, which was based on an endeavour to sell an unwanted and unloved 4x4 which was, perhaps, not quite up-to-date for Australian tastes.

For this 2007 entry into the Australian market the company (Mahindra Group) have chosen to have their interests supported by a local company (TMI Pacific, part of the Tynan Motor Group) who will be the brand's vehicle importer. TMI Pacific, based in Sydney and headed by Daniel Tynan as CEO, have set about building the Mahindra image in Australia by a progressive release of the new utility across the nation. New South Wales dealers are now receiving stock of the 4x4 ute (single and dual cab), which is known by the curious model name of "Pikup". In coming months the national roll-out will continue into Queensland and Victoria. Next year the brand will be nationwide, with dealers set-up from coast to coast. A 4x2 version of the Pikup ute will appear in the near future. Other models are likely in the future as Mahindra continue the development of new models.

Being a new model with an unknown background, the Mahindra Pikup utility is certain to cause interest. Many will want the technical data, others will be curious about the driving qualities, whilst others will question the ability of the Mahindra to do the job and others will want to get straight to the bottom line and want to know how much for the Pikup! Others will want to know where to go to see one and there will be many who will want to consider a comparison of the Mahindra with the leaders in the commercial ute market, vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Rodeo, Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger.

The new ute will be available in 4x4 format with either a single or a double cab. Both feature a conventional utility body. A 4x2 version will be available in coming months, in both single and dual cab. A cab/chassis version is likely, in the not too distant future. All versions are powered by a 2.5 litre, 4 cylinder, common rail turbocharged diesel engine.

Firstly, the price list for this new entrant in the volume selling utility market needs to be considered. And here it is!

Price (RRP including GST)

Mahindra Pik-Up 2.5 CRDe Turbo Diesel Single Cab 4 x 2 utility   -  $23,990
Mahindra Pik-Up 2.5 CRDe Turbo Diesel Double Cab 4 x 2 utility  -  $25,990
Mahindra Pik-Up 2.5 CRDe Turbo Diesel Single Cab 4 x 4 utility   -  $26,990
Mahindra Pik-Up 2.5 CRDe Turbo Diesel Double Cab 4 x 4 utility  -  $29,990

Here's an unusual aspect with the pricing ..... metallic paint costs no more than a non-metallic colour!

On the road in the new Mahindra Pikup

The Next Car team was amongst the first media outlets in the nation to drive this new model. Consultant Ken Walker and I, together with TMI Pacific CEO Daniel Tynan, had a run in the NSW Southern Highlands. On the tarmac, the Mahindra Pikup 4x4 dual cab utility demonstrated that it is a serious competitor in an aggressive segment of the new vehicle market .... the working ute segment. The light clutch, the easy gearchange mechanism, the comfortable cabin and, in particular, the pulling away from a standing start position made our initial drive a satisfying experience. Some 4x4 utes take too much room to undertake a 'U' turn, but the Mahindra Pikup handled a U turn much better than some competitors. The specs indicate a turning circle of 12.6 metres is required. Off the road, on an easy to handle fire trial, the new ute demonstrated that the sturdy construction and rugged attributes will keep the Mahindra in the good books with those who do serious off-roading.

The dual cab offers plenty of room and, importantly, entry and egress is easy.

We now look forward to putting the Mahindra to a full test.

Mahindra Pikup 
Location: Bowral, NSW

Technical features

The Euro IV compliant engine is, as stated, a 2.5 litre turbocharged diesel unit with a power rating of 79 kW at 3,800 rpm. Torque is a worthy 247 Nm at 1,800-2,200 rpm. The gearbox is a manual, 5-speed unit. An Australian sourced 6-speed automatic transmission will be available in 2008.

The 4x4 has a Borg-Warner electric shift transfer case. Steering is power assisted rack and pinion. Brakes are discs on the front wheels and drums at the rear. Front suspension is independent, torsion bar with stabiliser bar and hydraulic shock absorbers, whilst the rear is multi layered semi-elliptic leaf springs (underslung).

Wheels are 6.5"x16". Alloy wheels are optional.

The warranty is for 3 years/100,000 kms. Roadside assistance for 12 months is included.

Dimensions

Sitting on a 3,040 mm wheelbase, the Mahindra Pikup utility is 5,098 mm long and 1,770 mm wide. The height is 1,942 mm (double cab) and 1,860 mm (single cab). Ground clearance is 210 mm.

The cargo box measures (on the inside) 1,489 mm x 1,520 mm x 550 mm (length, width, height) for the dual cab. The single cab has a cargo box that measures (on the inside) 2,294 mm x 1,520 x 550 mm (length, width, height).

Payload varies from 1,000 to 1,160 kilogrammes (depending on version). The unladen weight varies between 1,990 and 2,150 kilogrammes (depending on version).

Standard Equipment

Features include air conditioning, power windows, Kenwood audio system (radio, SD, USB, MP3, CD), tilt steering wheel, side step, remote locking, follow-me-home lights, fog lights and child locks. There is a choice of seven colours.

NSW Dealer Locations

To begin with, the Mahindra will be available from dealers in New South Wales located in Bega, Campbelltown, Dubbo, Griffith, Merriwa, Mittagong, Muswellbrook, Narromine, Nowra, Queanbeyan, Sylvania, Woonona and Wyong. Additional dealers will be appointed, in time. Interstate expansion is targeted for later this year and throughout next year.

The Indian Connection

Economists point to a future when India, with its expanding economy, will become an economic 'powerhouse'. In such an environment, trade between Australia and India is sure to expand. Mahindra and TMI Pacific are set to participate in this activity. We gain further competition for the light commercial vehicle market and Mahindra are provided an opportunity to further expand their already large conglomerate.

To support the release of the Mahindra Pikup, company executives from India were available during the release presentation. Following an opening address by Sydney's Indian Consul General, Sujan Chinoy, the media contingent heard from Mahindra executives, namely the highly acclaimed Dr. Pawan Goenka (President - Automotive Sector) and Mr. Pravin Shah (Executive Vice President, International Operations - Automotive Sector). These gentlemen spoke with an element of excitement about the direction their company was heading. They have witnessed their company go into the South African market and they are now leading the expansion into Australia. By the end of the year they will see the company expand into the UK market. Then they will continue the expansion to other markets, as the world sees India become a successful car manufacturing nation.

History of M&M

In 1945, Mahindra and Mohammed was set-up by the Mahindra brothers and Ghulam Mohammed to assemble 4x4s which were to be sourced from Willys, USA. However, Ghulam Mohammed migrated to Pakistan and, later, went on to become Pakistan's first Finance Minister. Despite it's short history, the new company was re-named Mahindra and Mahindra. The company began a steel trading business. In 1947 the first shipment of 75 jeeps arrived from Willys Overland, as CKD (completely knocked down) kits. Assembly of these vehicles began in Bombay. The Jeep began local manufacture in 1954. The 10,000th Jeep came off the line in 1964.

Today, the $4.5 billion (USD) Mahindra Group operates worldwide and employs over 40,000 people.

Conclusion

We'll have a road test coming along soon. Like many folks, we're curious about the Mahindra getting on and doing the job of doing the job.

The initial reaction is certainly positive. The TMI Pacific management team are carefully laying out the plans for the brand's success in a market which is booming, but in a market which is highly competitive. The importer is well supported by the manufacturer as evidenced by the high powered executive team from India who were quite relaxed and open in their discussions with the Australian motoring media. In fact, the impressive and confident nature of the visiting executives demonstrated that the Indian connection is one which will become an endearing feature of the Australian automotive industry.





Other Mahindra content: here.

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