By Paul Lienert
DETROIT (Reuters) - Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd <MAHM.NS>, one of India's oldest vehicle manufacturers, is testing autonomous tractors, trucks and cars, while moving closer to bringing electric vehicles to the United States, Chairman Anand Mahindra said on Monday.
The company, which opened a new North American headquarters north of Detroit on Monday, is considering when to begin U.S. sales of the vehicles, Anand Mahindra said in an interview.
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It is also weighing whether the vehicles should carry the Mahindra brand or those of its affiliates Pininfarina, the famed Italian design house; and Ssangyong Motor Co <003620.KS>, a Korean manufacturer of utility and crossover vehicles, he added.
Mahindra & Mahindra bought Ssangyong in 2011 and Pininfarina in 2015. The Indian parent is collaborating with both companies on the development of electric vehicles, including premium models for Pininfarina that likely would compete with Tesla Inc <TSLA.O>. Anand Mahindra suggested that Ssangyong and Pininfarina electric vehicles might be sold in both the United States and China.
Earlier this year, Autocar India reported that Pininfarina was developing a family of electric vehicles for China's Hybrid Kinetic Group, as well as its own electric supercar. The magazine also reported that Ssangyong planned to launch an all-electric crossover vehicle in Korea in 2019.
In early November, Ssangyong said it had received approval to begin testing of autonomous vehicles in Korea, but did not say when it planned to produce them.
Anand Mahindra said his company, one of the world's largest tractor manufacturers, had been testing self-driving models since it bought a minority stake in Japan's Mitsubishi Agriculture Machinery in 2015. Mahindra & Mahindra operates several U.S. tractor assembly plants.
While work on the self-driving vehicles is still in the early stages, Mahindra & Mahindra has been building electric vehicles in India since the mid-1990s, when it developed a small fleet battery-powered, three-wheeled rickshaws for use in Delhi, the chairman said.
Mahindra & Mahindra bought Reva Electric Car Co, a small Bangalore-based manufacturer, in 2010 and transformed it into Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd, which designs and builds compact electric vehicles for the Indian market.
In mid-September, the company renewed ties with Ford Motor Co <F.N> through a new alliance that envisions sharing of technology, product development and parts sourcing, especially on electric vehicles.
The companies had a short-lived joint venture, Mahindra Ford India Ltd, established in 1995. Ford took control of the venture in 1998 and renamed it Ford India.
(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Richard Chang)