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Mahindra to build ‘global ute’

Indian brand promises Aussie focus for new Ranger and HiLux rival

22 Jun 2023

MAHINDRA is set to launch a new global ute to take on the likes of the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux, and it is expected to be offered with diesel power and a range of body styles to capitalise on demand from all parts of the market.


The new ute is expected to be based on a modified version of the ladder-frame chassis underpinning the Scorpio four-wheel drive, and will likely also make use of a similar turbo-diesel engine and four-wheel drive system as that SUV model.


That could mean a 2.2-litre ‘mHawk’ turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine with 129kW of power and 400Nm of torque, a six-speed automatic transmission and 4x4 architecture with low-range gearing. However, it is still several years away, and the brand has not confirmed any specifics as yet.


Mahindra’s president of automotive, Veejay Nakra, told GoAuto at the launch of the XUV700 family SUV that nothing is yet confirmed in terms of powertrains or specifics for the new work- and lifestyle-focused utility vehicle.


However, he did suggest that utilising the new platform that sits under the Scorpio would be a logical path.


“The Scorpio is a very capable ladder-on-frame SUV. So clearly… we make authentic ladder-frame SUVs, so the DNA would come from there,” he said. “But we clearly would create a global pick-up, which is distinct to be a global pick-up, it may have commonality of parts, it may share the commonality of the platform coming from Scorpio, but we would create a pickup which would be a worthy global vehicle.


“For example, maybe the loading and the towing capabilities of the products between the SUV and the ute may be different. I'm just putting that as a use case,” he said, inferring that the Scorpio’s maximum towing capacity of 750kg (unbraked) and 2500kg (braked) may not suit the user requirements. Members of the midsize ute brigade typically offer up to 3500kg braked towing capacity.


“One needs to just study the various segments, and I mean, once you talk about creating a global pickup, it could have single cab, double cab – it could take care of the larger segments now,” he said.


“The applications, whether it'll go all the way from the lowest end to the top most end, I think those are things that are currently going into the making of what the product would be as an offering,” he said, indicating the brand will aim to address the requirements of different ute buyers and users, possibly spanning a similar scale of line-up and offering as the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota HiLux, which offer everything from 2WD cab-chassis models through to dual-cab high-spec lifestyle utes.


“We would create a range that would cover different categories and segments, but it’s very difficult for me to say whether it would go all the way from the lowest end to the top,” he said. So maybe don’t go expecting a Raptor rivalling mega truck just yet from Mahindra.


“But having said that, I think what's more important is what our brand stands for, I don't think we would make a product that is not a brand fit with who we are,” he said. “And our brand fit has always been about offering more at a great value. And that's what even the global pickup would do so we clearly would offer a lot at a great value price,” he said, suggesting that the Indian company is also mindful of the surge in popularity of the ‘challenger’ ute models, such as the GWM Ute, SsangYong Musso and LDV T60.


Mr Nakra said that the company is gearing up to offer a truly global ute model that will aim up at segment leaders – not only in Australia, but other developed markets around the world – and while it isn’t ‘just around the corner’ in terms of timing, the brand understands the importance of such a model in Australia and other markets like it.


“I think the timeframe of let's say [financial year 2027] is the sort of timeline that we are looking at for bringing the global pickup into the market,” said Mr Nakra. 


“It will be a full scale lifestyle pick-up, and the brands that you talked about would definitely be in the competing set,” he said, when asked if the targets are Australia’s best-selling vehicles, the Ranger and HiLux.


The ute segment is also set to see the inclusion of a new vehicle from Kia, reportedly branded as Tasman, in the coming 24 to 36 months. The Korean company has high expectations for that vehicle, with targets of 20,000 sales per year – or approximately 10 per cent of the market, based on recent figures.


The ute segment continues to account for a sizable slice of the new-vehicle pie in Australia, with light commercial utility vehicles accounting for almost one-in-five sales (18.8 percent) to the end of May, 2023.


By the end of May 2023, the Toyota HiLux had sold 21,951 units, while the Ford Ranger had tallied 21,407. Should the Ranger pip the HiLux for overall sales at the end of 2023, it would end a seven-year streak for the now-ageing ute model.

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