Q&A: Rich Ansell, VP of Marketing for Mahindra Automotive

At a ranch in New Mexico, Mahindra Automotive vice president of marketing Rich Ansell sat down to provide an overview of the company’s work to bring the Roxor to farming. Mahindra is targeting farmers and ranchers looking for a simple and durable work vehicle with its recent relaunch of this side-by-side machine.

SF: Everyone is talking about the supply chain challenges the industry faces. How does Mahindra overcome them?

RA: We work efficiently on supply chain issues. Like everyone else, this is still something we need to watch very closely. We bring a decent amount of our content from India, so there are logistical elements as well. Our purchasing and logistics teams are earning their pay now, monitoring and finding solutions where solutions need to be found.

So far, so good. We’re going to ramp up a bit slowly, just to make sure we don’t get ahead of some of these issues. But right now we have the supply we need. We build vehicles and ship them to dealerships.

SF: With content coming from India, how complete is the vehicle at this point? How much is it going on in Michigan?

RA: About 65% of the content is from India. In Auburn Hills, Michigan, we do the final assembly.

SF: The country also faces generalized labor problems. What does it look like for Mahindra?

RA: At the moment, we are doing well. We have our production teams in place. The Roxor team is in place. I know it’s a big deal for a lot of companies, but it’s not a big deal for us.

SF: Given these two pervasive challenges and everything that has rocked the world over the past 18 months, why is this the right time to launch a product?

RA: There is a demand – a lot of demand – for a product like this. You look at the megatrends of rural lifestyles and people leaving cities and buying property they want to work for. The key word is work. This is the opportunity for Roxor.

Black Mahindra Roxor sits in a brown field

Photo credit: Mahindra

SF: Tell me more about the design process of balancing concepts that come from India with feedback from farmers.

RA: The vehicle is derived from a vehicle that we sell in India. We have our own design team in Auburn Hills, Michigan, so the design itself is not shared with any of the vehicles in India.

We spoke to more people in the agricultural space and people living in rural areas. They want a robust work vehicle. This is the direction we have given to our design team – hard work and robustness. Let’s reflect the character for which our tractors are known. This is how we arrived at Roxor’s new look.

SF: Aside from compliance with emissions or technical regulations here in the US, are there any specific features to report that flow directly from farmers’ demands?

RA: No. The chassis comes from India. The engine comes from India. Americans tend to be a bit bigger than Indians, so we had to look at some of the packaging space considerations and rework some of those things.

Mahindra Roxor cockpit with manual gearshift transmission, basic steering wheel and two seats

Photo credit: Natalina Sents Bausch

SF: We know farmers come in all shapes and sizes. How is Roxor equipped to accommodate them?

RA: We don’t have a tilt steering wheel, but the seat is adjustable.

Entry and exit was a concern we addressed initially due to the smaller packaging space [in the design from India]. Considering the fact that we don’t get a lot of negative feedback, I think we’ve fixed this problem.

SF: Promotional materials claim Roxor’s calm. Have you measured this? Is there a statistic I can share?

RA: I don’t think we’ve tested it, but you heard it today. It’s just a much quieter engine. So many of these side-by-side engines run at high revs. Some of them are the same engines as snowmobiles and wave runners. These are high speed, high speed engines. Our turbo diesel is the opposite of that.

A red Mahindra Roxor cargo crate

Photo credit: Natalina Sents Bauch

SF: Let’s talk about the cargo box. What makes it the right working setup for farmers and ranchers?

RA: We simply approached it as an open workspace. As we look into the future, we envision things like a dump body and a flat work surface. Both would obviously be a bit more built and designed.

SF: Tell me about the launch of the first phase with 71 dealers. Are they geographically targeted or your top performing dealers?

RA: They are well distributed geographically. This first phase of dealerships knows Roxor well and has had great success with him in recent years.

SF: How did you strike the balance between your simple, sturdy design and creature comfort?

RA: It’s built to last with its leaf spring suspension and solid axles. Some of the side-by-side vehicles have fully independent articulated suspensions. We are not that. We’re never going to be some type of vehicle that jumps in the sand dunes, but it’s comfortable to sit on. We have given a lot of thought to the headquarters. It is designed to be used all day.

SF: You mentioned things that might change in the future – more color options or cargo box features. Is there a plan for model years or another timeline for these things?

RA: We’re sort of moving away from model year designations because the core of the vehicle, I don’t expect it to change much. People love it. They love its durability and simplicity. I think we would be stupid to walk away from it.

We’re going to continue to look at additional colors, and we talked about dump or bed on the road. We’re going to kick the vehicle in and out, get the dealers to build up their inventories, and then we’ll start looking a little bit more looking ahead.

About Keneth T. Graves

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