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Mahindra terminates contract with U.S. distributor

by Mark Kleis

Just one week ago news spread that the Mahindra pickup was finally on the way - now we have learned that there are still more questions to be answered.

Proving to be the longest lasting, most unpredictable rumor in the auto industry - handily ousting the Amarok flip-flop for top honors - Mahindra has yet again hit a major snag in its seemingly doomed quest to come to the U.S.

It was only one week ago that Leftlane reported on the passing of the EPA emissions testing for the Mahindra truck, seemingly clearing the way for the small diesel-powered pickup to come stateside. But what we (and apparently all but a single Indian media outlet - Frontier India) missed was a small disclaimer on Mahindra's media site that said the agreement between Mahindra and its long-standing U.S. distributor had been terminated.

"Mahindr's relationship with Global Vehicles Inc (GV) has ended, the agreement dated 26th September 2006 between Mahindra and GV having terminated."

The termination of the agreement no doubt stems from the fact that GV Inc recently sued Mahindra for allegedly sandbagging the importation of the vehicles in an effort to shed the distributor from its duties.

Global Vehicles U.S.A., Mahindra's now-former U.S. distributor, says it has signed up 345 dealers nationwide - and in doing so incurred $35 million in costs. It is unclear if or how GV Inc will go about reimbursement from Mahindra regarding its losses.

About the Mahindra pickup truck
Sitting on Mahindr's Scorpion platform, we'll be seeing 2-door and 4-door trucks in both two-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive versions arriving on our shores in early 2010. A Mahindra SUV will reportedly follow about a year later - likely for the 2012 model year.

We've waited almost two years to catch a glimpse of the U.S.-spec Mahindra TR40 crew cab pickup you see in these pictures. The Indian-built diesel pickup has several refinements that set it apart from the rest of the Mahindra's Scorpion-platform trucks sold overseas. The U.S. truck adds a front bumper guard -- that's similar to an aftermarket guard -- as standard equipment, and a stamped-steel rear bumper. Both enhancements are needed to pass low-speed crash tests, which call for the front and rear bumpers to survive 2.5 mph direct and 1.5 mph corner impacts without damage. The trucks have standard stability control and four-wheel disc brakes.

Inside the TR40, you can see the 6-speed automatic transmission shifter that manages the 2.2-liter mHawk diesel engine, and it comes with a manual setting. Official power numbers haven't been released, but it is expected to produce between 140 and 150 horsepower, along with an impressive 300 lb.-ft of torque. The interior trim is very similar to the Australian version of the Mahindra, but is reportedly being developed exclusively for the American market. The center console between the seats includes three cupholders, power window controls and the four-wheel drive switchgear.

The small pickup will yield an impressive 2,600 pound payload capacity with the 7.5-foot cargo box - roughly a thousand pounds more than the Toyota Tacoma.

The Mahindra TR40 and two-door TR20 pickups were scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in February, under the production model name of Appalachian - but now it is not clear if that will still occur. The starting price is expected to be from $20,000 to $25,000.

Should the truck actually make it to the U.S., expect a diesel-hybrid version of the truck to follow a year later, and with a few-thousand dollar premium to go along with it.

1.''Global Vehicles and Mahindra's...' view

September 22nd, 2009