Last September, we learned that Ford was in talks with Mahindra to explore ways to expand into the Indian market and potentially collaborate on product development.
The two automakers on Thursday announced they have since signed a Memorandum of Understanding to evaluate the possibility of developing an electric car, a compact SUV and a mid-size SUV together.
For the mid-size SUV, Ford and Mahindra will look at developing the vehicle based on a Mahindra platform. Importantly, separate versions are to be developed to be sold independently by the two automakers.
Ford and Mahindra also agreed to evaluate co-developing a compact crossover SUV and an electric car, along with sharing powertrain portfolios, including the supply of Mahindra powertrains to extend Ford’s product range.
The two also agreed to evaluate the possibility of collaborating on connected car technology.
We should note that the focus is on India and other emerging markets, so we may not see any of the vehicles Ford develops with Mahindra on sale in the United States. This is backed by comments made by Jim Farley, Ford's executive in charge of global markets.
“Ford is committed to offering the best vehicles, technologies and services that fit the lifestyles and preferences of Indian consumers,” he said at the signing.
India is often touted as the next China but apart from a similar population, currently at well over a billion people, there isn’t much else to compare. China has invested heavily in infrastructure and manufacturing over the past decades, and this in turn has attracted plenty of foreign investment and helped build a sizable middle class keen on catching up with western counterparts.
The same can’t be said for India, which is why most automakers apart from those selling inexpensive vehicles have struggled, despite it being the fifth largest market for new cars in the world. Even General Motors announced last year it was ending all sales in India. Ford isn’t giving up just yet, though it's clear the automaker realizes it needs help to fully understand the market.