Mahindra hopes to ride into US market on a scooter

03 Sep 2015


SUV maker Mahindra and Mahindra is making a debut in the US auto market with two wheelers. The company will soon launch electric scooter called the GenZe in the US.

Mahindra could use the GenZe as a springboard into the car market, once the scooter earns a name and gets a big market. US, however, is a slow market for scooters where the overall market for two wheelers is sluggish.

But, once the product gains acceptance in the US market, Mahindra hopes to find a market for four-wheelers as well.

Mahindra hopes to entice college- students, mostly campus dwellers, with its GenZe 2.0, pre-production prototypes are already being tested in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The GenZe electric scooter, which goes on sale this fall in California, Oregon and Michigan, will have a price tag of $2,999. Sales might expand to other states and Europe, depending on its outcome.

Much will depend on user acceptance post launch. But this strategy has the risk that US is an unlikely market for scooters as elsewhere in the world.

Mahindra also has a record of market retreat in the US five years ago as its vehicles failed to meet US safety standards.

"The pressure has really been on to make sure that we get this right," says Terence Duncan, the head of customer engagement for the GenZe and one of its chief designers. "What we're doing, really, is introducing the brand to American customers."

Mahindra designed the GenZe in Silicon Valley with features favored by tech-savvy Millennials, like a secure laptop charging port under the seat. It opened its four stores in San Francisco and Portland because buyers there are more accepting of two-wheeled transportation. In Michigan, buyers can get a GenZe at the Ann Arbor factory where it's made.

The GenZe only goes up to 30 miles per hour, so riders won't need a licence. Its most innovative feature is a 28-pound removable battery, which riders can unhook and carry inside to charge. The battery takes 3.5 hours to fully charge, and the scooter goes for 30 miles on a charge. A 7-inch touchscreen display tells drivers their speed and range.

Market analysts expect two-wheeler makers to sell a maximum of about 5,000 electric scooters in the US this year.

These include the ZEV 2700 and the Bravo EVT-168, which cost about the same as the GenZe.

By comparison, 30,000 will be sold in Europe and 3.9 million in China, where electric scooters cost less than half the price of a GenZe because they use a cheaper type of battery.
Mahindra is banking on quality, design and comfort GenZe offers to push sales in a difficult market - working to create what life demands.

''The GenZe, designed to help make your busy life easier and more fun, is the smart way to get around town. You'll love the freedom the GenZe provides by getting rid of commute headaches, parking hassles, and auto expenses. The 100% electric two-wheeler that helps you stand out-not fit in,'' the company stated in a web site release.

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