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Big ambitions for new Mahindra ute

Mahindra global ute to rival HiLux, Ranger with 2.2L turbo-diesel and 3500kg towing

4 Dec 2023


MAHINDRA is aiming to offer ute buyers a serious alternative to the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger with its new-generation pick-up model in a couple of years’ time, the Indian auto-maker setting benchmark-level expectations for the all-new body-on-frame model.


The as-yet-unnamed new-generation Mahindra pick-up is confirmed to be offered with turbo-diesel power initially, and with the expected maximum braked towing capacity of 3500kg.


Company executives have stated that the new ute will share some elements of its underpinnings with the Scorpio off-road SUV, but with a longer wheelbase and different overhangs.


Further, it has been confirmed that the new model will offer an array of body styles and variants, and that a five-star ANCAP rating is a non-negotiable for the vehicle.


Crucially, the new ute will be diesel-powered from launch, with the company confirming the new-generation mHawk 2.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder – with an expected output of around 140kW and 450Nm – will form the basis of the range. 


Mahindra Auto head of APAC Joydeep Moitra told GoAuto at an event in India last week that the brand is aiming to offer a vehicle that will satisfy the requirements of discerning dual-cab customers, but that the brand will not stray from its value-for-money proposition for customers.


“The global pickup is planned with a diesel powertrain – alternate powertrains will be seen in future,” said Mr Moitra.


“There will be a petrol for some of the petrol markets. But primarily for a ute, you’re expecting 3500kg towing. You won't get that with a petrol.”


Mr Moitra suggested that, with increasing stringency around diesel emissions under the upcoming Euro 6d requirements (and furthermore with Euro 7), the brand realises that diesel engine technology is going to become more costly for the development, and that will mean diesels will become dearer for consumers, too.


He said that, realistically, “the value proposition may be at risk at some stage” for diesel powertrains, but he sees the fuel type remaining an important part of the Australian automotive ecosystem for years to come.


“Intrinsically diesels are good as towing vehicles, and Australian consumers love to tow, they have these lovely boats and horse carriages and RVs that they need to tow. I can’t see them sacrificing their lifestyle, just because diesels became more expensive,” he said. 


Mr Moitra said a production version of the new pick-up is “at least two years of solid work” away from reality, but that the brand is aiming high when it comes to meeting customer expectations in multiple markets.


“It is also going to be unique in its own way. While it will share some of the underpinnings of the Scorpio, but it will have a longer wheelbase it will have different performance attributes to that, it will tow three and a half tonnes,” he said.


He explained that piecing the puzzle together is the first job for the designers, but making sure that the game can be played in multiple markets is a big challenge for the brand. He said that Australia is a key focal market for the new pick-up, alongside South Africa, where the debut of a concept version of the new ute was held.


“Clearly there is a huge amount of work that's required in the design phase. And then the validation – it takes us about six to eight months of validation in Australia for each of the products,” he said, referring to the existing pre-launch work done for the recently launched XUV700 seven-seater and Scorpio 4x4 SUV.


“They have gone through almost 100,000 kilometres of testing in Australia prior to the launch, and they were tested out by our dealer partners,” said Mr Moitra.


“That takes time. So, we will not short-circuit the timeframe that is required for doing all of this testing. We make sure that everything is done, tested, we are thorough and we are very clear about this, and then bring the product into the market.”


Mr Moitra acknowledged that the current Scorpio and XUV700 – neither of which have ANCAP safety ratings as yet, but both of which have been crash-tested by Global NCAP, the safety watchdog for developing market vehicles which focuses more on crash performance than collision avoidance – but he said that the brand is designing and developing the new ute for a five-star ANCAP score whenever it is set to reach the market.


“Yes, the global pick-up will be five-star, so whatever is required, whatever number of airbags is required to get it into five-star, will be there. It's as simple as that,” he said.


“Now, yes, we got into Australia (with XUV700 and Scorpio), we got these products in the market, but whatever new things are coming up (including the new ute and EV range) they are all built to that (five-star ANCAP) level.”


It would be silly to think that Mahindra is not also planning some form of electric or electrified ute, too, of course, as brands such as Ford and even BYD plan to launch plug-in hybrid versions of their pick-up trucks in 2024 and beyond.


But Mr Moitra stated that “the global pickup is planned with diesel powertrain, and alternate powertrains will be seen in future”, and he said he could see the potential advantages of offering an electric powertrain could offer buyers who tow heavy loads.


“It’s an interesting question because I think electrics can also offer that same level of torque in that sense,” he said of lifestyle tow vehicles.


“And so would that be the solution? I think time will say, but I think diesels will still stay in Australia, given the lifestyle needs of customers. This is not easy to just push away.”


Mahindra is currently still selling the existing Pik-Up ute, which is available in single- and dual-cab body-styles.


The vehicle, which is fancied by agricultural customers and off-roaders alike, remains one of the most affordable diesel commercial vehicles in the market, starting at $24,990 drive-away for the 4x2 model and $28,990 drive-away for the 4x4.

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