Alongside the cars and trucks on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year, you’ll find offroad vehicles from a company based in India called Mahindra. They’re built in Michigan, and you can see them at the show when it opens on Saturday.
WKAR’s Scott Pohl talks with Dan Proffer, Marketing Manager with Roxor Offroad.
SCOTT POHL: Roxor Offroad and Mahindra are Michigan built off road vehicles. Tell me more about the company.
DAN PROFFER: Mahindra, back in the 40s, what they did is they acquired the licensing to build the old Willys vehicle, so they've had it in India for 70 years. Moving way forward, in 2013, Mahindra North America automotive was started in Auburn Hills. In the midst of all that we brought the Thar vehicle which is what this is mirrored after we re-engineer to do to an off road vehicle and we named it Roxor. It's an off road vehicle only.
POHL: Who's your typical buyer?
PROFFER: Most of the people that buy these are your hard work guys for construction, ranching, farming, that kind of thing. There's a big element for off road recreation, but it's basically a work vehicle.
POHL: But I see lots of really fun paint jobs while I'm standing here with you.
PROFFER: One of the one of the big things that we offer is we can paint over 400 colors right in the factory in Auburn Hills. So if you have your favorite color, tell us what it is, and we can paint it for you on the spot. The other thing we do is we have our in house graphics department that we can wrap it any any type of variation you can think of. That's where you see all the pretty colors out here.
POHL: Now also at your display is the Mahindra Marazzo. Tell me about the Marazzo.
PROFFER: The Marazzo is a vehicle designed just for India. We designed that vehicle for the Indian market only, so it won't be on road here in the United States. It's a completely body on frame front wheel drive vehicle that we patented typically and basically for their rough roads.
POHL: Then there's also in your display the GenZe, which makes electric bicycles and a scooter.
PROFFER: Correct. GenZe is built out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Those are the electric scooter and electric bicycle market, obviously better in the heavy duty metros, but we sell them nationwide.
POHL: Tell me about your Michigan workforce.
PROFFER: The Michigan work force is great. We have a really good story on that. We employ over 425 people just at Mahindra automotive North America. We're actually always taking resumes and looking for more people as we expand and grow. We started with six guys in an office back in 2013, and now that we're manufacturing and we're actually assembling the Roxor here, we're up to 425 people.
POHL: These off road vehicles are available in the United States, correct?
PROFFER: Correct. We have a dealer network across the United States of about 300 dealers. We just opened up into Canada, so we're about 25 to 30 dealers up there and hoping to get about 100 dealers up in Canada by the end of the year. They're available in pretty much every major market you can find.