Mahindra helping Ford bring out its cheapest EV globally

Mahindra & Mahindra is helping Ford Motor Co its cheapest electric car globally, while the companies have also started work on a new platform to develop a sports-utility vehicle that would be sold under their individual branding, according to a Times of India report.

Citing top sources, the report says that Mahindra has helped Ford develop an electric version of its Aspire entry-level sedan, and this could hit the market by next year. ''Ford has gained tremendously from Mahindra's strength in electric vehicles technology. The Aspire will be the first to hit the road, and while its existing petrol and diesel versions which are under 4 metres in length, the electric variant will be longer,'' one source said.

The two companies had in September last year signed a memorandum of understanding, initially for three years, ''to leverage their mutual strengths during a period of unprecedented transformation in the global automotive industry''.

The MoU was to explore joint work on electric vehicles and global distribution, and teams from the companies have been working on synergies and areas of mutual benefit. Mahindra's help will enable Ford to get an ''affordable electric vehicle'' in India ''substantially quicker'' and ahead of a launch by market leader Maruti Suzuki, which has announced entry into electric vehicles by 2020.

''The vehicle will be right in the heart of the market. Apart from mainline customers, the vehicle will also help Ford participate in lucrative government orders, with a big thrust on cleaner vehicles in purchases by both central and state governments,'' a TOI source said.

A detailed questionnaire sent to Mahindra on the matter remained unanswered, while Ford refused to answer any direct queries. ''This strategic alliance between Ford and Mahindra aims to explore how the two companies can work together. It is too early to discuss details and comment on speculations at this stage,'' a spokesperson for Ford said.

The two companies have also started work on an all-new SUV. ''This is being developed jointly, and is an ambitious and bold step. The joint SUV project is at a very advanced stage and while there will be a joint platform, the design will be individual for the both the companies in line with their brand philosophies,'' a source said.