Currently reading: Mahindra Thar.e concept is radical EV 4x4 tipped for UK launch
Indian firm's rugged electric Jeep Wrangler rival tops range of SUVs in line for European launch

Indian auto giant Mahindra has unwrapped the radical Thar.e concept as a vision of a rugged electric 4x4 that could go on sale in the UK by the end of the decade.

The Mumbai-based firm – one of India's largest automotive companies – showed the Thar.e in Cape Town this week as part of a wide-reaching preview of its electric vehicle strategy, which included confirmation that it is eyeing an expansion into the mainland European and UK markets.

Mahindra already has a presence in the UK, through its Oxfordshire-based Advanced Design centre and Formula E team. Unwrapping five new UK-designed electric SUVs at the Banbury site last year, Mahindra bosses told Autocar that they were considering a UK market launch towards the end of the decade, if the market conditions were right.

Now, the brand has doubled down on its global expansion ambitions. As reported by Autocar sibling site Autocar India, Mahindra is actively exploring the possibility of launching its new 'Born Electric' SUV line-up in the UK and mainland Europe in the coming years.

The Born Electric range comprises a trio of strikingly styled electric crossovers designed in Banbury and based on a new architecture derived from the Volkswagen Group's MEB platform - the fruition of a partnership signed in Banbury last year.

Mahindra born electric suvs

The BE.05, BE.07 and BE.09 (numbered according to size) will be the first Mahindra cars to ride on this new platform, dubbed Inglo. Claimed to be one of the world's lightest EV skateboards, it houses cell-to-pack batteries ranging in capacity from 60kWh to 80kWh and allows for charging at up to 175kW.

The first cars on Inglo will use batteries sourced from Chinese manufacturer BYD, with Volkswagen eventually supplying cells to Mahindra. Volkswagen will supply EV motors for all the Born Electric cars (including any production-spec Thar.e), which will come with either a 282bhp rear-driven powertrain or with a secondary 106bhp unit on the front axle for four-wheel drive.

The first of these new electric cars will be the BE.05, launching in October 2025, followed by the BE.07 in April the following year. Launch dates for the BE.09 and Thar.e were not given.

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The Thar.e concept imagines a spiritual successor to Mahindra's big-selling Thar, an affordable, rugged SUV with a similar ethos and design to the Jeep Wrangler.

Conceived as an electric off-roader, it adopts a rugged, severe silhouette, sits high from the ground on Dakar-style suspension and rides on beefy all-terrain tyres. No doubt a production-specification evolution of this design would be more overtly road-focused.

Mahindra thar

The cabin, meanwhile, "blends minimalism with functionality, focusing on the essentials of off-road driving", according to Mahindra. It has a pivoting central screen, an array of grab handles and a minimalist dashboard arrangement in a bid to cater to "urban and off-road adventures".

Mahindra's automotive boss, Veejay Nakra, called it "a testament to innovation and a pioneering design philosophy that is uniquely Mahindra and distinctively global", hinting at the potential for a production version to be sold outside India.

But before launching any electric SUVs in Europe, Mahindra will first launch an assault on the global pick-up market with the production version of its Scorpio N concept - a ladder-framed Toyota Hilux rival that will offer competitive levels of technology and equipment, as well as the choice of petrol or diesel power.

Mahindra is India's biggest pick-up manufacturer and the reveal of the Scorpio N in Cape Town is significant, given the strength of the light truck, or 'bakkie', market in South Africa.

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Nakra told reporters in South Africa that the Scorpio will be sold in left-hand drive, but confirmed the potential for it to still be sold in the UK after 'phase one' of Mahindra's global expansion is under way.

He said: "Our globalisation strategy doesn't only include entering new markets with new products, but also to scale up existing markets where we have only a 1%-2% share, but with these products can target a much higher market share in those nations.

"There is a large market where we are currently present. We want to go and get respectable market shares in those markets. Then we will bring in phase two of our globalisation plans and add new markets."

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: Deputy editor

Felix is Autocar's deputy editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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Peter Cavellini 16 August 2023

Well at least someone still thinks the UK has a future for their product.

Sanjeev2 25 May 2024
Peter Cavellini wrote:

Well at least someone still thinks the UK has a future for their product.

It's reassuring to see confidence in the UK's potential market. Belief in the future is crucial for product development and growth. Let's keep striving for success!