The automotive company that built this winner has come a long way from its beginnings as a steel trader. Set up in 1945, shortly before India attained independence, in Ludhiana, Punjab, by two brothers Kailash Chandra and Jagdish Chandra Mahindra and their associate Malik Ghulam Muhammed, the Mahindra group of companies has kept pace with the growth of the country over seven decades. Muhammed went on to become the first finance minister of Pakistan after the partition of India and Pakistan, and the company was renamed Mahindra & Mahindra.
Mahindra has today grown to become one of the largest industrial conglomerates in India with interests in 22 industries including automobiles, aerospace, hospitality, defence, finance, and real estate. It employs a quarter of a million people in over 100 countries, and has revenues of USD 20.7 billion. The truly global company, whose philosophy for its group companies is ‘Rise’, now sees nearly half of its revenues generated outside of India.
The group’s foray into automobiles started with the assembly of the Willys Jeep, then expanding into light commercial vehicles and farm equipment. Just before India’s green revolution adopted modern methods and technology to increase productivity, the company built its first tractor in 1963. Soon after, exports followed. It should therefore surprise nobody that in 2010, Mahindra became the largest tractor manufacturer in the world by volume catering to customers around the world and factories in India, China, the US and Australia. The Farm Equipment division has won the Deming Prize in 2003, the first tractor company to do so by achieving significant improvements in implementing Total Quality Management. With an eye on the future, it has recently launched autonomous driving technology for tractors.
Mahindra has also built up its sports utility vehicles division in partnership with automakers such as Renault and Ford as well as building transmissions and engines for Peugeot and Kia. The transportation stable also includes global brands such as Genze, Ssangyong, Peugeot Motocycles, Sampo Rosenlew, and Pininfarina. Still, the Mahindra Bolero and Scorpio, their best-selling utility vehicles, also incorporate ample amounts of locally-developed technology and expertise too, honed through its presence in other industries. The group has 63 manufacturing facilities around the world.
The information technology wave saw Tech Mahindra being established in 1986 with British Telecom as a partner to handle technology outsourcing. Since then, it has grown to be the largest business in the group after farm equipment and automotives, employing over 131,000 employees around the world assisting Fortune 500 companies with digital transformation – everything from engineering and software solutions to forward-looking technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, IoT, and robotics. Many of these will find their way into innovative initiatives such as the smart cities solutions, on which Mahindra has partnered with Cisco and Bosch.
In 2015, Tech Mahindra and Mahindra & Mahindra took a controlling stake in Italian design house Pininfarina S.p.A, which has designed and built iconic cars for marques such as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. This acquisition has brought with it not only a wealth of expertise, but also trickle-down effects in the assembly of electric cars that the company has been pushing since it took over the Indian electric carmaker REVA in 2010 – at the time the world’s most affordable city electric car.
Group company Mahindra Racing is the only Indian team to compete in the all-electric Formula E racing championships. Driver Nick Heidfeld from the team has even joined the team developing the Battista electric luxury hypercar at Pininfarina.
The push for alternative sources of clean energy is embodied by another group company, Mahindra Susten, which is one of the largest independent solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors worldwide. It has over 3937MWp of projects at various stages of execution including 672MWp internationally.
Mahindra’s empire expands beyond tech and automobiles too. The acquisition of the Finnish resort brand Holiday Club Oy has propelled Mahindra Holidays & Resorts to become the largest hospitality brand outside the US.
The Group’s conscience about the world also extends to its own corporate governance and corporate social responsibility activities such as the education of 310,000 girls in India through the project Nanhi Kali, and group companies have won awards on both fronts. The factory at Igatpuri is India’s first carbon neutral plant and the group is committed to being carbon neutral by 2040.
The group is currently chaired by grandson of founder Jagdish Chandra Mahindra, Anand Mahindra, who was responsible for the well-publicized USD10 million endowment to his alma mater Harvard, where he was enrolled, first to study film and then at the Business School. The humanities centre at Harvard is now called the Mahindra Humanities Centre. His daily tweets of bon mots, motivational videos, memes and topical observations are read by over 7.4 million followers. Anand Mahindra will take a step back from his role as Group Chairman from 1 April 2020, handing over the reins to current Mahindra & Mahindra Managing Director and CEO Dr Pawan Goenka. He will be taking over the reins of an organization that is primed to rise even further, higher and faster.