Indian utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra is looking at options to buy a U.S. facility for assembling its pickup trucks that would save it an import penalty, a senior official said on Friday.
Mahindra, which already sells tractors to U.S. farmers and has three local assembly plants, plans to launch its pickup trucks in the U.S. in phases from early 2010 and the Scorpio sport utility vehicle within a year after that, said Pravin Shah, executive vice president of international operations.
We are exploring various options, Shah told reporters at the sidelines of an industry event, adding that the acquisition of a facility would be the most economically feasible option.
When asked about the demand outlook for the company's vehicles in the U.S. market, Shah said: We have found sweet spots for ourselves.
He said the pickup trucks will be competitively priced, adding that the United States would become the company's largest export market in some time.
Mahindra has planned a total outlay of about $100 million for the U.S. launches of pickup trucks, of which about $80 million has already been spent, Shah said.
Currently, Mahindra exports its Scorpio and Bolero vehicles to 22 countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe.
Its export volumes fell to 9,000 units in the year to March 2009, from 13,000 in the previous year.
We expect it to be slightly better this year, Shah said.
Shares in Mahindra, valued at about $4.7 billion, were down 1.1 percent at 814 rupees by 0749 GMT in a Mumbai market .BSESN that was down 0.5 percent.
(Writing by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Himani Sarkar)