Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., India's biggest maker of sport-utility vehicles and tractors, plans to assemble a new diesel-powered pickup in Ohio next year, an executive for the trucks' distributor said, according to Bloomberg.


Mahindra is in final negotiations with a contract assembler for the work, John Perez, chief executive officer of importer Global Vehicles U.S.A. Inc., said. The Indian vehicle maker plans to start selling the pickup with a 2.2-liter diesel engine in mid-2009.

Building trucks in Ohio would follow through on Managing Director Anand Mahindra's goal, outlined in a December interview in New Dehli, of expanding overseas as the rupee's gains against the dollar make assets in the U.S. relatively cheaper.


Mahindra has signed up 300 initial U.S. dealers and has a sales goal for its first full year of 45,000 trucks, Perez said in an interview after speaking to dealers in San Francisco at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.


Mahindra also will introduce a diesel-electric hybrid option for its vehicles in 2010, said Perez, whose Global Vehicles is based in Alpharetta, Georgia.


Mahindra will begin selling trucks and SUVs in a U.S. market where sales of both types of vehicles have been falling. Perez said the low cost of the trucks and the added fuel- efficiency should boost U.S. sales to 100,000 vehicles by 2012.


Mahindra will first build a two-door pickup similar in size to General Motors Corp.'s Colorado or Ford Motor Co.'s Ranger and later introduce a four-door truck and an SUV. The vehicles will sell for $20,000 to $30,000, Perez said. 

There are no automakers in the U.S. that sell diesel-powered trucks of that size. Chrysler LLC has said it will begin selling a diesel engine in its full-size Dodge Ram pickup in 2010, still a larger truck than the Mahindra.


Bloomberg reports that Perez wouldn't say where in Ohio the plant would be built. The assembler would take parts shipped from India and put them together. Doing so helps Mahindra avoid an import tariff of 25 percent.