Mahindra and Mahindra Pik Up - Black, front three-quarter view

In 2004, Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra began courting U.S. auto dealers to build a network of outlets for its trucks and SUVs. Eventually, the company had accumulated $9.5 million in fees from prospective dealers itching to sell Mahindra-branded vehicles.

Mahindra promised to have trucks for sale in the U.S. by 2008 and SUVs by 2009. Fast-forward to 2012, and there are still no Mahindras for sale in the U.S.

Now, Miami-based law firm of Diaz Reus & Targ has stepped in to represent dealers in New Hampshire, Florida, California, New Jersey and Washington in a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

"Mahindra told the dealers that its light trucks and SUVs were ready for delivery to the U.S. market," maintains Diaz Reus in a press release. "However, Mahindra intentionally delayed certification of its vehicles after obtaining the dealership fees and trade secrets, and began pursuing other partners in the U.S. and elsewhere in clear violation of their commitments."

"Through their false representations, the defendants lured the U.S. dealers into making investments and promoting Mahindra's brand name," said Diaz. "Mahindra is going to learn that trying to outsmart the dealers was a serious mistake, as we will aggressively seek justice for our clients."

This is not the first lawsuit tied to Mahindra's fortunes in the States. Last year, Global Vehicles USA, the firm looking to be the brand's distributor in the U.S., lost a British arbitration ruling that effectively squelched any hopes of bringing the TR20 and TR40 pickups to this market any time soon.
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U.S. Automobile Dealers Sue Indian Truck Manufacturer For Fraud And Conspiracy

ATLANTA, June 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. automobile dealers from across the country filed a lawsuit yesterday accusing the Indian truck manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra, Ltd. and its U.S. counterpart of fraud, misrepresentation, and conspiracy. The lawsuit alleges that Mahindra duped hundreds of U.S. auto dealers and walked away with more than $60 million in cash and trade secrets. Then Mahindra simply reneged on its promises, according to attorney Michael Diaz, the managing partner of Miami-based Diaz Reus & Targ, who leads the plaintiffs' legal team of Gary Davidson, Brant Hadaway, Carlos Gonzalez and Sumeet Chugani.

"Mahindra told the dealers that its light trucks and SUVs were ready for delivery to the U.S. market," said Diaz. "However, Mahindra intentionally delayed certification of its vehicles after obtaining the dealership fees and trade secrets, and began pursuing other partners in the U.S. and elsewhere in clear violation of their commitments."

The mass tort lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta (#KH199170-3) on June 4, 2012 against Mahindra & Mahindra, Ltd, and Mahindra USA, Inc. by dealerships in New Hampshire, Florida, California, New Jersey, and Washington. Dealers across the country paid initial dealership fees, undertook marketing on Mahindra's behalf, built Mahindra showrooms, display platforms and showcases, and hired additional personnel, all at Mahindra's urging, according to the lawsuit.

"Through their false representations, the defendants lured the U.S. dealers into making investments and promoting Mahindra's brand name," said Diaz. "Mahindra is going to learn that trying to outsmart the dealers was a serious mistake, as we will aggressively seek justice for our clients."

According to the lawsuit, Mahindra began laying the groundwork to enter the U.S. market and build a nationwide dealer network in 2004. In a high-profile move to court the U.S. dealers, Arun Jaura, a senior Mahindra executive, attended an Atlanta automotive show in 2007 where he repeatedly proclaimed, "I love America!"

At that show, which was attended by about 400 U.S. dealers, Mahindra executives presented promotional videos that showcased its vehicles' durability, purportedly showing them being driven on different terrains. Jaura also provided a set time-line for introducing Mahindra's four-door truck to the U.S. market at the end of 2008, and Mahindra's two-door truck and SUV in the third quarter of 2009.

Mahindra's pitch was highly successful. Ultimately, it obtained $9.5 million in fees from the dealers, according to the lawsuit. Through a barrage of press releases, sales pitches, advertisements, and news articles orchestrated by Mahindra, Jaura's comments were subsequently used to entice more U.S. dealers to agree to carry Mahindra's vehicles.

Over the next two years, Mahindra continued to reassure the U.S. dealers that its certification process was on target, while in fact it was delaying submitting its documentation to regulators as a pretext for terminating its agreements, Diaz added.

"Mahindra repeatedly failed to live up to its obligations," Diaz explained. "Now, after spending millions of dollars on behalf of Mahindra, the U.S. dealers have nothing to show for their time and energy other than a series of false promises."