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Mahindra takes second crack at U.S. auto market with ‘India tough’ off-roader

Mahindra Automotive North America quality control workers inspect ROXOR off-road vehicles at the MANA Plant in Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (Reuters) – “Warning: Don’t do anything stupid!” reads the sign to the right of Rick Haas’ office computer.

It is the same tongue-in-cheek warning affixed to the dashboard of every off-road Mahindra Roxor vehicle that Indian automaker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd assembles in a suburb north of Detroit.

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The motto might also apply to the Indian automaker’s latest attempt to enter the U.S. auto market – an effort Haas, a former executive at Ford Motor Co and Tesla Inc, is leading.

(GRAPHIC: Mahindra eyes U.S. auto market as new car sales are poised to stall – tmsnrt.rs/2F5aj1u)

A decade ago, Mahindra tried to break in to the U.S. market with a low-cost pickup truck. The foray ended in failure and a lawsuit from dealers demanding their franchise fees back.

Haas, the automaker’s North American chief executive, says this time Mahindra has a more cautious “pay-as-you-go strategy.” Instead of starting with a truck or passenger car, Mahindra is reintroducing its brand with the Roxor, a vehicle that looks like a vintage Jeep.

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