Although U.S. domestic automakers still face drastically low sales, expanding Asian auto OEMs are making preparations to compete on U.S. soil.
Seoul, South Korea-based CT&T Company Ltd. announced on July 1 that it will produce its e-Zone and c-Zone electric vehicles (EVs) in the U.S. CT&T United, its U.S. subsidiary, will establish its North American headquarters, a research and development center, and several manufacturing facilities for an complete line of EVs and batteries. By the fourth quarter of 2009, the company expects to begin selling c-Zone utility EVs for commercial and government applications as well the e-Zone “City Drive” vehicle.
Meanwhile, Indian conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (Mumbai, India), a manufacturer of compact diesel pickup trucks, has partnered with Alpharetta, Ga.-based automotive importer Global Vehicles USA, to sell a reported 45,000 trucks in its first 12 months in the U.S. market. According to the latter, the partners hope eventually to have a network of 300 to 400 dealerships. Sales of Mahindra pickups could begin late this year at dealership locations formerly affiliated with General Motors and Chrysler.
Truck offerings for the 2009 debut will include two-door and four-door models, but Mahindra is expected to offer a small SUV, beginning in the fall of 2010. Although body panels reportedly are steel, subsidiary firm Mahindra Composites (Pune, India, formerly Siro Plast Ltd.) could supply other parts on the U.S. pickups.
Notably, finished pickups will be imported from India only for the first six months. Thereafter, the company plans to assemble trucks in the U.S. from shipped parts, using the services of a manufacturing partner that is expected to be in place by mid-2010.