It is not news that Mahindra & Mahindra and Ford India has signed up for a joint venture in the Indian market. Under the initiative, one can expect a range of interesting products in the near future, including the next-gen Ford EcoSport and Mahindra XUV500 as rumours suggest.
Ford India has always been popular at making driver-oriented vehicles (for regular passenger cars) while Mahindra commands a strong portfolio of petrol and diesel powerplants. Combine these together and the joint venture promises a lot.
As the demand for crossovers dubbed SUVs is on the rise in our market, either company is working on an all-new compact crossover (or "mid-size SUV") to compete with the two dominant names in the segment: Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta. Every product coming within the partnership would have a respective Ford or Mahindra counterpart depending on which brand introduces it first.
For the Seltos- or Creta-rival in question, an all-new Ford 'VX-772' platform (readily available with Ford Motor Company's global division) would be employed. This could also mean that the product would come with a Ford badging initially. Pawan Goenka, Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra, shares that the company has a product gap in the "4.4-metre kind of vehicle" category and Ford's VX-772 architecture would be a perfect base to address this. The SUV has no name as of now, and could be named as Mahindra XUV400 upon launch. It will sit between the XUV300 and XUV500 in the company line-up.
Another highlight of the venture would be the convenience of packing BS6-compliant Mahindra engines in Ford-developed platforms for sales in potential export markets such as the ones in Europe. Pawan Goenka states that "the three engines (1.2-litre, 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbo petrol mStallion mills)" for the upcoming JV products are already market-ready. The engines would serve their duty in the next-gen Ford EcoSport, a 'B-platform SUV' actively in development at Ford India and a W605 'C-platform SUV', respectively.
The 1.2-litre engine would most likely be the same unit showcased at Auto Expo 2020 in the Mahindra XUV300 Sportz Edition. It churns out 128bhp and 230Nm of torque - roughly 20bhp and 30Nm more than the current turbo-petrol Mahindra XUV300 BS6.
The 'C-SUV' will be manufactured at Mahindra's Nashik plant. On the other hand, Ford India's facility in Sanand will produce the 'B-SUV'. Meanwhile, the second-gen Mahindra XUV500 will be launched towards the end of this fiscal. We have shared multiple spy shots of the 2021MY XUV500 over the months. It seemingly has a long way to go to be ready for mass production. The Ford C-SUV discussed above will arrive before it.