Mumbai: Mahindra & Mahindra, India's largest sports utility vehicle (SUV) manufacturer, expects to drive into the quality-conscious US market in a year's time.
With firm orders for 45,000 Scorpios, M&M has already signed up 285 dealers in the US to sell the vehicle. The company also plans to invest $178 million for setting up sales and service outlets.
The US order for Scorpios is, in fact, more than the 40,000 units M&M sold in India in the last financial year. The Scorpio would have a price tag of $25,000 in the US market.
M&M plans to sell three diesel variants of the Scorpio starting March 2009, reports quoting John Perez, chief executive of Global Vehicles, which will be handling Scorpio sales in the US, said.
Pawan Goenka, the president of the automotive division of M&M, said he was not surprised by the demand for Scorpio in the US, but said it had exceeded the company's target.
The company will have to expand the current annual capacity of 52,000 units of Scorpio to meet the US demand, he said.
"It could either be in Nasik or Chakan (near Pune). We have not decided that," he said, adding that the company would spend $50 million on upgrading the vehicle to meet the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requirements.
M&M had spent $120 million for developing the Scorpio platform five years ago.
M&M, meanwhile, launched a new line-up of its SUVs - Scorpio V-series. The new Scorpio VLX is equipped with the mHawk engine and an array of features, M&M's vice president-marketing and sales (automotive sector) Vivek Nayer told a press conference.
The new VLX is priced at Rs9.57 lakh (ex-showroom Bangalore). The high-power density mHawk engine and updated transmission allows the vehicle to go from zero to 60 kmph in 5.7 seconds with greater agility. The use of a second generation common rail system, recyclable plastics and aluminium head result in lower weight and better fuel efficiency, he said.
US is the largest SUV market in the world with 15 million vehicles in annual sales.