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Mahindra Suddenly The Talk of The Town

Indian pickup and SUV maker Mahindra & Mahindra has been quietly gearing up to launch its brand in the U.S. in early 2010. But the company has been anything but quiet this week.

First, reports that the company is in talks with General Motors about its Hummer brand. GM has said that it is exploring options on Hummer whose gas guzzling nature is suddenly very much out of fashion with American consumers. Too, GM is out to raise cash. The other news on Mahindra is that Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs reported that it bought a 3.72% stake in the Indian company last month for $172 million.

Mahindra had surfaced in the discussions with Ford about possibly buying Jaguar and Land Rover. But Mahindra rival Tata walked away with the two British brands.

Mahindra & Mahindra is planning on launching is diesel powered pickup and SUV in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2010. That scheme, of selling high fuel economy pickups and SUVs through more than 200 dealers who have signed up, is getting somewhat more complicated given the premium that oil companies are charging for diesel fuel relative to regular petrol.

The vehicles are being launched via Global Vehicles, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based company. Though Mahindra & Mahindra will be new to most vehicle buyers, it is a brand that is no stranger to tractor buyers. M&M tractors have been sold in the U.S. for about a decade, and they hold the no. 3 market share. Indeed, satisfied tractor owners are considered to be the likely first wave of buyers of Mahindra pickups and SUVs.

Buying Hummer may sounds like a bad idea. But Mahindra is a truck and SUV specialist, and could possibly manufacture them more cost effectively, and with diesel engines to make them more fuel efficient. And like Tata is going to find a lot of under developed markets for those two British brands in Asia, the Middle East, India and South America, so to might Mahindra make more out of Hummer than GM has been able to.

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