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Fri May 9, 2014
Hey, scooter: Indian builder coming to Ann Arbor
An Indian manufacturing company is expanding into Michigan.
Mahindra Group will locate its technical research facility in Troy – and a manufacturing facility in Ann Arbor.
Mahindra's first product in the U.S. will be an electric scooter called the "GenZe."
The scooter is designed for modern urban and campus commuting. It will get up to 30 miles on a charge, and the battery can be removed and plugged into a regular 110-volt outlet.
Features include a large storage bin in the back for things like groceries, laptops, or laundry. The GenZe also has a large touchscreen in the front that can link to an iPhone, for navigation and other functions.
Anand Mahindra is Chairman of Mahindra Group.
He says they considered six countries and several other states besides Michigan for the two facilities.
"What you need for a technical center is people – that's the raw material," Mahindra told a large crowd at the Ann Arbor facility. "And you (Michigan) still arguably have the best engineering talent not only in America but in the world."
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation gave Mahindra a grant of $800,000 dollars to help establish the Troy and Ann Arbor facilities.
Mahindra Group once considered bringing a compact diesel pickup truck to the U.S., but truck import duties, the low popularity of diesel at the time, and strict U.S. environmental regulations got in the way.
Anand Mahindra says it's possible the company may still one day build and sell a four-wheeled vehicle in the U.S.
At a press conference following a ceremonial ribbon-cutting in Ann Arbor, Mahindra said clean vehicles require clean energy. In India, Mahindra builds solar vehicle charging stations along with its electric scooters and electric cars.
The company employs 180,000 people, and is almost a jack-of-all-trades corporation, with divisions that make two and four-wheeled vehicles, solar panels, tractors, and other durable goods – to divisions that provide services, including information technology, real estate, consulting, and vacation homes.