A Two-Wheeled Pickup Truck For City Folk

May 9 2014, 3:59pm CDT | by

Anand Mahindra, the Harvard-educated chairman of India’s $17 billion Mahindra Group, scolds me for calling his company’s newest commuter vehicle “a scooter.”

“Scooter has the wrong connotation in America,” he says. “It’s a device used by the elderly.” (Tell that to Vespa.)

Instead, he calls the GenZe a “two-wheeled pickup,” a description that literally causes me to laugh out loud.

Whatever you want to call the GenZe, it’s urban transportation that is clean, connected and practical, with a large storage bin behind the seat to haul your stuff. It will be  inexpensive, too, he promises, with an easy payment plan for college students, although he isn’t disclosing the price just yet. (AutoblogGreen guesses about $3,000.)

Conceived in India, designed in Silicon Valley and built in Michigan, the GenZe is Mahindra’s answer to urban congestion. Aimed at students and urban commuters, it has a 30-mile range and a top speed of 30 miles per hour (which means a motorcycle license isn’t needed in most states.)

A seven-inch touchscreen on the handlebars shows the speedometer, odometer and battery range. It also syncs with your smartphone, letting you access music playlists and apps on the go. You can even charge your phone or tablet along the way, using the USB plug under the seat. And there’s room for groceries, laundry or even a cooler in the bin behind the driver.

The chairman made a rare trip to the U.S. on Friday to mark the GenZe’s production launch in Ann Arbor, Mich., as well as the opening of a new Mahindra technical center. The factory has the capacity to assemble up to 9,000 vehicles per year, with the ability to ramp up to 20,000 vehicles if needed.

The company looked at six countries in Europe and North America to do production, he said, and ultimately settled on Ann Arbor. “You know how America loves their pickups,” he said.


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