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Indian automaker looks to enter U.S. market

Working with U.S. distributor, company plans to sell SUVs and pickups.

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DETROIT (Reuters) -- Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.is looking to enter the U.S. market and has signed an agreement with independent distributor Global Vehicles U.S.A. Inc., a spokesman for the distributor said on Monday.

Mahindra plans to launch two vehicles, a pickup truck and a sports utility vehicle called the Scorpio, in the United States in 2008, spokesman Tom Persons of Alpharetta, Georgia-based Global Vehicles told Reuters.

"We are looking at pretty aggressive volumes," Persons said, but he declined to give a specific target.

He said Global Vehicles will announce more details in mid-April. The company is headed by former Mazda executive William Geotze.

A Mahindra spokespeople could not be immediately reached for comment, Reuters and industry newspaper Automotive News said. The company already sells tractors in the United States.

Formed in 1945 to make Willys Jeeps in India, Mahindra has cornered nearly half the market for utility vehicles and is the world's No. 4 tractor maker. But it is among the smaller automakers in the global market.

Mahindra sold 127,521 vehicles last year, according to Automotive News.

Global Vehicles, under the name Cross Lander USA, had previously planned to introduce a Romanian SUV into the U.S., according to a report in Automotive News.

The company called off that plan, the report said, citing opposition and corruption among Romanian government officials. By that time, Cross Lander had already signed on 130 dealers and accepted security deposits, according to Automotive News.

The company refunded the deposits of dealers who wanted to back out, according the newspaper. Automotive news quoted Geotze as saying, last week, that the company had pledged to find a new vehicle to sell for those dealers who wished to stay in.

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