| GREATER NOIDA, India
GREATER NOIDA, India Feb 6 Mahindra and
Mahindra Ltd, India's largest utility vehicle maker,
and unit Ssangyong Motor Co Ltd will launch their
first jointly developed engine in the first quarter of 2015, a
senior executive of the Indian company said.
The South Korean company, which Mahindra acquired in 2011,
will use the engine in its X100 compact sport utility vehicle to
be launched next year, Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra's
automotive and farm equipment sectors, said on Thursday.
"Mahindra most likely will have a ... version of it on that
(X100) platform," he said. "There are future products that we
will collaborate on where a common platform either of Mahindra
or Ssangyong could potentially be used for both."
He expects the two companies to eventually produce six
engines, which will include petrol and diesel variants.
Mahindra will also roll out two of its own compact SUVs and
a commercial vehicle in 2015, he said. The company has no plans
to launch any passenger vehicles this year.
Small SUVs, such as Ford Motor Co's EcoSport and
Renault SA's Duster, have remained one of the few
bright spots in a local auto market that is bracing for weak
demand on the back of a slowing economy, combined with high
interest rates and fuel costs.
Mahindra has seen demand for its utility vehicles fall about
17 percent in April-December, industry data shows. However,
strong sales of tractors in the domestic and overseas markets
such as China and the United States have more than offset that,
helping profits grow in the first two quarters of this year.
The company, which scrapped plans to sell a pickup truck in
the United States in 2012, is looking to enter the country's
passenger vehicle market through Ssangyong, though Goenka, who
is the Korean company's chairman, said it could take at least
two to three years for Ssangyong to enter the U.S. market.
He said Ssangyong is focusing on strengthening its position
in western Europe and China. He forecasts sales volume in China
to double in 2014 from last year's 6,300. Ssangyong sold 36,000
vehicles in Russia, its biggest market, last year.
"China certainly has the potential to overtake Russia for
Ssangyong," he said.
(Editing by David Holmes)