Everybody has been fussing about Mahindra, that Indian automotive company that recently bagged the multi-billion peso deal to supply the country’s police force with reliable transporters. Mahindra, who? You might ask. Well you might be in for a big surprise. Unknown to many, Mahindra is one of the largest industrial companies in India that has been supplying the world with countless products and services.
Operating for more than six decades, Mahindra spans 18 key industries that form the foundation of every modern economy, including aerospace, aftermarket, agribusiness, automotive, components, construction equipment, consulting services, defense, energy, farm equipment, finance and insurance, industrial equipment, information technology, leisure and hospitality, logistics, real estate, retail and two wheelers.
Mahindra was founded in 1945 as a steel trading company by two brothers, J.C. Mahindra and K.C. Mahindra. In 1947, they began assembling Willy’s Jeep CJ-3A utility vehicles for the Indian market.
Currently, India is one of the largest automotive markets in the world. It was previously one of the fastest growing markets globally. India emerged as Asia’s fourth largest exporter of passenger cars, behind Japan, South Korea and Thailand. In 2010, India overtook Thailand to become third biggest car manufacturer with over 3.7 million vehicles produced.
Car manufacturers in India
The majority of India’s car manufacturing industry is evenly divided into three “zones.” Around Chennai is the southernmost and largest home of the India operations of BMW, Caparo, Daimler, Ford, Hindustan Motors, Hyundai, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Renault.
Near Mumbai, Maharashtra, operations of Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen are located in Aurangabad. Mahindra has an SUV and engine assembly plant at Nashik where General Motors, Mercedes Benz, Fiat, Jaguar Cars, Land Rover, Tata Motors and Force Motors have assembly plants. The northern zone is around the National Capital Region, where the country’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki is based. Lastly, Kolkata with Hindustan Motors, Noida with Honda, and Bangalore with Toyota are other automotive manufacturing regions around the country.
In 2014, the Indian brand expanded its presence in the Philippines because of confidence on the steady and sustained growth of the Philippine economy. Mahindra & Mahindra, signed an agreement with the Alvarez automotive group to distribute the brand in the country. The Alvarez conglomerate also distributes BMW, Kia and Peugeot automobiles locally.
Initially, Mahindra will make available the Xylo and Enforcer models in the Philippine market.
Mahindra wins bid to supply PNP vehicles
The Mahindra Enforcer met all the requirements for the Philippine National Police’s transportation needs, enabling the company to bag the deal to supply the police force with 1,470 vehicles.
The budget for each vehicle was set at P895,000 that required the following: full body conversion with convertible back-to-back and front facing seats; fitted with siren and lights with speakers; inclusive cost of maintenance for a year; delivery to the end users all over the Philippines; and three years Land Transportation Office registration with Third Party Liability insurance coverage.
Aside from the minimum requirements, the PNP Memorandum Circular number 2013-005 required the Mahindra vehicles to pass a six-page torture test before it can be approved for delivery.
Testing the Enforcer
Mahindra provided several units of the Enforcer to Fast Times t torture/test drive based on the six pages of the PNP circular as a guideline in performing the so-called tests. And the Enforcer was tested to traverse the beaches of Pagudpud to the mountains of Baguio, down to the lahar-laden rivers of Pampanga and to the tarmac tests at Subic in Olongapo. Representatives from both the PNP and the Mahindra group were present to witness the tests.
The units imported from India were powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged diesel engines rated at 100 hp and 240 Nm of torque. Arriving in the country bare, the back seats were installed just before the testing, then the back was loaded with sandbags totaling one metric ton to simulate a full load of passengers.
The following are the official results of the tests:
Passing with flying colors, Mahindra presented the vehicle before the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel in April. According to company officials, the Enforcer patrol vehicles will be turned over to the PNP beginning this month, in five batches. A total of 1,470 units costing P1.3 billion are set to be delivered to the police force until September this year.
Even before Mahindra could turn over the first batch of the Enforcer patrol units for use by the PNP, critics rushed to conclusions and hurled accusations of corruption against the Indian carmaker.
“The government actually had savings with the P1.3 billion,” said Mahindra president Felix Mabilog Jr.
“People don’t have to worry about the after-sales service. We have facilities in place through Kia dealerships. We’ve been bringing in technical experts to train our mechanics,” he added.
Known for being straightforward, Mabilog narrated how his company dealt with the changing requirements. According to Mabilog, who has helmed various car brands in the country, a firm should be at least 60-percent Filipino-owned to place a bid for the PNP patrol vehicles. Most bidders were dealers, and CAC Mahindra was the only car distributor in the frenzy.
“We did our best to win this bidding,” he said. “We thought it was a good opportunity to introduce the brand since it is not yet well-known, although it has been around for some time. Unlike the dealers who would have had to outsource the conversion of the vehicle body, CAC Mahindra–being a distributor and not a dealer–was the only bidder with an assembly plant facility to have its patrol units’ bodies done locally in its factory.” CAC is the Columbian Autocar Corporation.
“That was our advantage over our competitors,” Mabilog said. “The Enforcer’s bodies were factory-made here.”
Clearing all speculations, the official figures taken from the PNP and hearing the side of Mabilog, Filipino taxpayer are surely getting their money’s worth.
Notably, the South African police uses the same Mahindra model for transportation needs. And so does the Indian army, the Nepalese army, and some Chilean police departments as well. If the Mahindra is good enough for a country like South Africa, why not the Philippines?