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Mahindra Thar off limits for Australia, for now

Iconic Indian 4WD ruled out, but there is a glimmer of hope for a future BEV model

4 Dec 2023

MAHINDRA will not sell its iconic Thar 4x4 model in markets outside of the subcontinent with a petrol or diesel powertrain, but an electric version of the Thar – known as Thar.E – could offer a different proposition for markets like Australia.


In 2021 Mahindra was issued a “cease and desist” request from Stellantis over the Indian auto-maker’s intent to potentially import the Thar to Australia, with the formal wording stating that Stellantis would “pursue all available avenues to stop Mahindra from continuing to make misleading and deceptive representations in relation to our Jeep brand, pass off their Thar as a Jeep Wrangler and infringe our design rights”.


Senior executives at Mahindra made it abundantly clear to Australian media during a recent visit to the company’s SUV proving ground outside Chennai, India, that the business has no plan to offer the current-generation Thar in Australia, or anywhere else outside of its domestic market.


“Thar is ruled out for all international markets. Okay. So, it’s not Australia specific. It’s all international markets,” said Mahindra Auto head of APAC Joydeep Moitra.


However, the brand is working towards launching a Thar.E full battery electric model, which Mr Moitra said could be assessed for markets besides the subcontinent.


“The Thar.E is at a concept level, we still need to do a lot of work, including insighting in Australia to really figure out the customer fit because this is an off-roading vehicle, and it's a very interesting concept”, he said.


“We really also need to do a lot of consumer insighting before we can say that yes, this is something that will be really suitable for Australian consumers, and it can do good volumes and that there can be a strong value proposition.”


Mr Moitra explained that a fully electric, extremely capable off-road vehicle could be an important halo product for the brand in Australia, showcasing the marque’s known strengths in rugged capability and its ambitious intent in the electric vehicle space.


“It can be a great brand-building tool. So, we’ll have to work through those pieces before we take the business call on product introduction into Australia,” Mr Moitra told GoAuto.


Ankit Taneja, Mahindra Australia national head, said the company is open to a range of EV products, so long as it makes sense for the market and the brand’s aspirations in Australia.


“There will be a range of vehicles, and Australia is a priority market for us. So, whichever product comes from the international standpoint, with the vision that has been shared … We would be looking at all the options as to how we ramp up on our product line,” he said.


“But then that absolutely depends on the product market fit. We really don’t want to bring anything if it doesn't make sense.


“Whichever is clearly appealing in terms of having the right market size because the channel now is in place; and now with whatever future products you are seeing, we’ll definitely critically evaluate each and every vehicle, but EVs we are very, very excited about.”


The Mahindra Thar is available in India with a range of internal combustion drivetrains, including a base model 4x2 diesel manual which has a price equivalent to around $A20,400.


A range-topping 4x4 diesel auto with electronic locking differential is the equivalent of $A30,800.


It is available with soft- or hard-top body options, and Mahindra is currently also developing a five-door, long-wheelbase version of the ICE-powered Thar, which is expected to also form the basis of the Thar.E.

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