Detroit sees 1st new car plant in 25 years, thanks to Mahindra

Indian automotive major Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd on Monday opened a new manufacturing plant in the world’s car capital Detroit, which got its first automotive production facility in 25 years.

With an investment of $230 million, the plant at Auburn Hills in north Detroit will create 250 new jobs in the US.

”It is pretty rare and extraordinary,” said Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley at the Mahindra automotive plant launch event.

”You are an important and vital part of the resurgence of Detroit,” he told Mahindra employees and top officials including company chairman Anand Mahindra.

Mahindra said that his company is committed to growing the Mahindra brand in North America and Michigan.

”This building opening represents our company’s growing presence in North America and locally in the Metro Detroit area where we have tripled our workforce during the past 18 months,” he said.

In few weeks from now, the new facility will produce an off-highway vehicle, which will extend Mahindra’s current position in this growing segment. Mahindra’s strength has always been sports utility vehicles.

Designed and engineered by Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA), the vehicle promises to be unlike anything currently on the market, he said.

”This expansion represents a milestone for us and for Michigan. We started this operation with seven people four years ago –  to be crossing the 250 mark is a testament to the hard work of our employees and what this region has to offer in terms of top automotive talent,” said MANA president and chief executive Richard Haas at the inaugural event.

By 2020, additional planned projects will result in 400 more jobs and another $600 million in local investment over that same period.

In addition, MANA will continue to provide Detroit-based engineering support for new vehicle platform development for India and global markets.

”It is a great day for my district and my State as this is the first automotive manufacturing facility in 25 years. This comeback is real and exciting,” said Congressman Dave Trott adding that Southeast Michigan is the birthplace of automotive industry.

”This illustrates the strong partnership between the Us and India,” said Tom Vajda, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia as he welcomed the Mahindra automotive plan in Detroit region.

Autonomous vehicles
Mahindra, one of India’s oldest vehicle manufacturers, is testing autonomous or self-driving tractors, trucks and cars, while moving closer to bringing electric vehicles to the United States, chairman Anand Mahindra said.

The company is considering when to begin US sales of the vehicles, Anand Mahindra said in an interview after inaugurating the Detroit plant.

It is also weighing whether the vehicles should carry the Mahindra brand or those of its affiliates Pininfarina, the Italian design house and Ssangyong Motor Co, the Korean manufacturer of utility and crossover vehicles, he added.

Mahindra & Mahindra bought Ssangyong in 2011 and Pininfarina in 2015. The Indian parent is collaborating with both companies on the development of electric vehicles, including premium models for Pininfarina that likely would compete with Tesla Inc.

Anand Mahindra suggested that Ssangyong and Pininfarina electric vehicles might be sold in both the United States and China.

Earlier this year, Autocar India reported that Pininfarina was developing a family of electric vehicles for China’s Hybrid Kinetic Group, as well as its own electric supercar. The magazine also reported that Ssangyong planned to launch an all-electric crossover vehicle in Korea in 2019.

In early November, Ssangyong said it had received approval to begin testing of autonomous vehicles in Korea, but did not say when it planned to produce them.

Anand Mahindra said his company, one of the world’s largest tractor manufacturers, had been testing self-driving models since it bought a minority stake in Japan’s Mitsubishi Agriculture Machinery in 2015. Mahindra & Mahindra operates several US tractor assembly plants.

While work on the self-driving vehicles is still in the early stages, Mahindra & Mahindra has been building electric vehicles in India since the mid-1990s, when it developed a small fleet battery-powered, three-wheeled rickshaws for use in Delhi, the chairman said.

Mahindra & Mahindra bought Reva Electric Car Co, a small Bangalore-based manufacturer, in 2010 and transformed it into Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd, which designs and builds compact electric vehicles for the Indian market.