• Feb 6th 2011 at 12:37PM
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Mahindra Pik-Up - Click above for high-res image gallery

It's hard to understand how Indian truck/SUV maker Mahindra could miss its fuel economy goal by one-third. Mahindra's supposed U.S. distributor, Global Vehicles of Marietta, Ga. (which has been embroiled in an opera of lawsuits, name-calling and musical chairs management concerning its deal with the Indian manufacturer), has had an oft-stated goal of 30 mpg highway fuel economy for the clean diesel truck.

According to FuelEconomy.gov, however, the four-wheel-drive Mahindra TR40 crew-cab pickup with a four-cylinder diesel engine and automatic transmission has been rated by the EPA at only 19 mpg city/21 mpg highway. By comparison, the 4x4 2011 Dodge Dakota with a 3.7 liter V6 engine is rated at 14/18. The TR40's miserable highway mileage doesn't even match the Ford F-150 3.7 liter 4x2, which is rated at 16 city/23 highway. The 4x4 Ford Ranger, like the aforementioned Dodge, is rated at 14 city/18 highway. Mahindra's compact pickup truck offers a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds and a payload of 2,765 pounds.

Mahindra and GV had been counting on the fuel economy angle to get on truck buyers' radar. But the current differential between the Mahindra TR40 diesel truck's mileage and that of the gas-powered competition is unlikely to turn heads or create headlines. Global Vehicles told PickupTrucks.com: "Good fuel economy will be an important part of the truck's appeal, and we're eager to see the fuel economy for all of the models, especially the two-door, two-wheel-drive model, which Mahindra told us to expect would achieve close to 30 mpg."

It's hard to imagine Mahindra squeezing out nine additional highway miles per gallon just by stripping out the 4-wheel-drive system.

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While Mahindra's U.S. launch has been hitting speed bumps for two years, company officials were actually feeling a little better about their U.S. prospects as they learned that both Ford and Dodge planned to leave the mid-size truck market. These days, GM seems to be on the fence about the segment, thus potentially leaving the market to the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and potentially Mahindra.

Last August, Mahindra announced it had terminated its contract with Global Vehicles to distribute the trucks when they finally arrived. GV has publicaly disputed Mahindra's termination claim, and the two sides are in protracted litigation, leaving dealers in the middle. GV has between 300 and 350 franchise agreements signed with dealers and has collected millions of dollars in franchise fees.

Though Mahindra and Mahindra is a leading company in India, building pickups and SUVs, and has a successful tractor business in the U.S., it apparently did no due diligence before inking a contract with Global Vehicles and its CEO John Perez in 2006.

A former Chrysler dealer in the 1980s, Perez's only other claim to experience in the auto industry was an ill-conceived attempt to import a Romanian SUV known as the Aro (because that's what the Western Hemisphere was craving). He had spent a decade unsuccessfully attempting to import that vehicle and had a network of U.S. retailers standing by when the plan ended.

Apparently Malcolm Bricklin was too busy to answer the phone as he was trying to line up Chinese automaker Chery for U.S. distribution at the time.

Really? A company with the profile and success of Mahindra couldn't find five people with genuine auto industry experience in the U.S., amidst a period of buyouts and early retirements in Detroit, to put together a plan and dealer network to launch its brand in the most important consumer market in the world? Baffling.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I still do not know why there is a huge hype for this car to come to the US. Its been a big mess and all I hear about are issues getting it here.
      I say give it a rest and don't bother bringing it here. Its ugly, horribly uneconomical for a diesel, and probably will not be appealing to very many people at all...

      there is my 2 cents and it is my opinion so don't rant about it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The reason why there's such a huge hype is, some people want a 30 MPG compact pickup that can actually tow. (Basically, they want a compact pickup with 4-cylinder fuel economy and big V6 torque.)

        Anyway, you can get that, today, in the US. The trick is, you have to build it, which includes fabricating an adapter plate.

        Find an old Ranger and a wrecked Jetta/Golf/New Beetle TDI, and adapt as needed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'll wait for the TR41 based on a late gen Ranger.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Since when have you seen anything come out of India that has lived up to the hype.
      • 4 Years Ago
      One thing to keep in mind is that:

      When the EPA tests pickup trucks for fuel economy, they typically test them with the tallest (lowest number) rear end ratio available. For example, the Ford F150 5.0L is tested with the 3.31 rear end ratio, even though you need to get it with the 3.73 rear in order to have the maximum payload and towing capacity.

      My guess is, this Mahindra is only available with one gear ratio, and it's the ratio for maximum towing/hauling. This especially hurts highway fuel economy, as a short rear end ratio means higher engine revs when going down the highway in 5th/6th gear (which is something most diesels really don't like).
        • 4 Years Ago
        If it has 6 gears, and only comes in one configuration, why wouldn't the 6th gear be suitable for traveling on a highway? If they want to sell it in America, they should consider American usage (we have lots of highways).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maintaining the towing and payload ratings, maintaining a proper gear ratio spread......there are a multitude of reasons why. It isn't as easy as making a transmission where gears 1-5 are setup for performance and gear 6 is an ultra tall overdrive only for use in an unladen truck going down the highway. Even now you aren't supposed to tow/haul with the 6th gear overdrive in most trucks, but people do it all the time anyway. Then they think it's the trucks fault when their transmission fails at 50,000 miles or something a long those lines.

        My guess is, if Mahindra stays in the U.S. market they'll make changes to their vehicles with each successive generation to fit more into their market role. Right now, we're getting a truck that has the bare minimum of changes necessary to bring it here. It will likely take them a while to learn the tricks that U.S. manufacturers use to make their products appear more appealing (like advertising one truck model as getting the best fuel economy, payload, and towing capacity; even though you can't get all those things in one vehicle because they require a different optional gear ratio)
      • 4 Years Ago
      What's the point? Might as well get a beat up Hilux/Tacoma that does the job just as well and at a tenth the price of this bucket of junk.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Diesel is all well and good for economy, but it also has to be paired with good diesel engine technology, and unfortunately, this truck looks like it posseses no technology at all.

      Just sticking a Diesel in wont make it economical. It has to be a good engine design. As with gas engines, there are god and bad ones.

      When it looks as cheap and badly constructed as it does- did anyone really expect a great engine?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Poor hwy mileage has one simple reason - low top speed. EPA tests car between 70 and 80mph and I don't think Mahindra can go more than 100.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My 82 Toyota gasser got 32 mpg highway. This thing should do better than that with a diesel.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This isn't hard to figure ... the truck is probably geared low for that "mini-truck" to haul that ton-and-a-quarter-plus of weight or tow two and a half tons. It probably wasn't designed to do high-speed interstate driving in India, so it's not surprising to figure that such an oversight translated into dismal highway mileage in the US.

      I'll bet it's top speed is pretty limited too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't think there is any reason to make excuses for this thing. It has a 6-speed transmission, there's no reason it shouldn't have a suitable top gear for highway mileage. Clearly it's just a hunk of crap.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It doesn't really matter if it gets 10mpg or 100mpg if I can't buy one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep, I honestly doubt if this will even actually make it over here. And if these numbers are true it will be gone in a year or two if it doesn't shape up to what they said it would be
      • 4 Years Ago

        • 4 Years Ago
        I just have to add:

        This is what you get when you mix the expectations of a 1st-world consumer, with 3rd-world engineering

        ... everyone here in the US is expecting a diesel to be extremely efficient.... yeah, except that this truck is probably using 1980's-era technology, which would make it less efficient than a modern gas V8
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's been posted for almost an hour now and we've yet to hear from a single soul that was pleading, begging, pining, groveling, crying hystericaly, blubbering and near ogasmic for this, this, this, ugly looking thing from the past.
        • 4 Years Ago
        a best braggadocio is also a 'best'. Made in ...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was one of those people. I'd figured if it would be a winner if it had matched the fuel consumption, capability and price that was originally quoted.

        Turns out that this truck is a disappointment at every level except for maybe capability, but there are other trucks that fit the bill a lot better.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maybe this is the reason why Mahindra pulled itself out of this market and left GV with the mess. Sounds like wishful thinking and agressive marketing with old tech lead to a bad combo of unrealistic goals.

        In short Mahindra couldnt do it, but if the Hilux can get 28MPG (http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/07/toyota_introduc.html) and new Ranger is at 31MPG (http://www.autoebid.com/buy-new-vans/FORD/RANGER/Pick-Up-Double-Cab-XLT-2.5TDCi-4WD/16572.asp)

        So lets see if someone builds a little diesel pickup that all these people who where curious in the little myth of a pickup can actually reallly buy!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was one of those people that was cautiously optimistic. 19/21 mpg sucks. My lifted 4 banger Ranger gets much better. It's not quite the workhorse this truck is, but I was interested because it was 1.) a small diesel 2.) would have more power, capability, with MPG numbers that made everything else on the market with that capability look like a Hummer, in terms of fuel consumption.

        I'm completely uninterested in this POS now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        to add,

        i think you have to be a complete idiot to buy this POS
        either that or totally wasted or on drugs

        i can not see how any normal person would want that thing
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