Mitsubishi launches van in India

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MADRAS, India -- Japan's Mitsubishi Motor Corp. will launch a nine-seater van in India in technical collaboration with Bombay-based Mahindra & Mahindra, the No.1 Indian utility vehicle maker. Mahindra will launch the Voyager van in August, with an investment of $19.5m. First-year production is pegged at 3,000 vehicles, with 8,000 to be shipped in the following year, Alan Durante, executive director and president-automotive division, said.

The Voyager is currently produced in South Africa, Indonesia and the Philippines. Mahindra's decision to manufacture the van stems from an effort to increase its presence in the Indian automotive market.

An erstwhile licensee of Chrysler Corp. for the Jeep, Mahindra snapped ties with the U.S. automaker when it tied with rival Ford Motor Co. in an equal joint venture to launch Ford Escort and Fiesta cars. But Mahindra continues to hold a 55% share of the utility segment in India through its Jeep-styled vehicles.

Mitsubishi's one-off alliance with Mahindra is its third foray in the market. The Japanese automaker a few years ago launched the Mitsubishi Canter truck in collaboration with a local heavy vehicles maker. The truck flopped. Late last year it entered into an alliance with Calcutta-based Hindustan Motors, India's No.2 car maker, to launch the Mitsubishi Lancer passenger car in the subcontinent by 1997.

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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