Wolfburg has previously indicated it would open the MEB platform to other automakers, with Ford being the first notable outside automaker to sign up, with plans for two SUVs.
Mahindra will produce five electric SUVs with batteries ranging from 60 to 80 kWh, split among two different brands.
Volkswagen said years ago it wanted to offer other automakers its electric MEB platform—which currently underpins the VW ID.4 and other EVs—and Ford signed on as one of the early partners. But it wasn't until this year that the auto industry learned of another planned collaboration with an outside automaker that would involve the MEB platform.
Mahindra and Volkswagen revealed this week that MEB platform components will be used in Mahindra's purpose-built EV platform dubbed INGLO, which will underpin not one but five electric SUVs. The vehicles will use Volkswagen's battery systems and unified cells, as well as electric motors.
The Indian automaker revealed the first concept images of these models in the UK this week, with the five models slated to be split up among two brands owned by Mahindra.
Three models will appear under the BE brand, badged BE.05, BE.07, and BE.09, following a nomenclature not too dissimilar from Volkswagen's ID. prefixes. Two additional electric SUVs will be produced under the XUV brand, badged XUV.E8 and XUV.E9.
Mahindra revealed a schematic of the models' INGLO platform, indicating the models will be powered by batteries ranging in size from 60 to 80 kWh, which will be capable of 175-kW fast-charging speeds promising an 80% state of charge in 30 minutes.
A glimpse of the interior reveals an infotainment widescreen stretching across most of the dash, in a likely two-screen pairing now favored by some automakers, but also a traditional gear shifter in lieu of a rotary knob or a push-button setup.
"The MEB Electric Platform and its components are key to affordable sustainable mobility around the globe," said Thomas Schmall, Volkswagen Group Board of Management member for Technology and CEO of Volkswagen Group Components. "The partnership not only demonstrates that our platform business is highly competitive, but also that the MEB is well on track to become one of the leading open platforms for e-mobility. We are thus delivering on the focus of our Volkswagen NEW AUTO strategy to make the platform business a strong pillar of our Group and to unlock future profit pools through economies of scale."
Mahindra's partnership with Volkswagen for this series of planned EVs is the most detailed look we've gotten at the planned use of MEB components in an EV outside of the VW brands like Skoda, SEAT, Porsche and Audi, and it reflects a modern approach to EV component sharing between automakers.
GM's Ultium platform has also been extended to outside automakers, with Honda and Acura slated to use the platform for the Honda Prologue SUV due in 2024, as well as a related Acura model, before Honda rolls out its own e:Architecture platform in the second half of the decade.
Earlier this spring we got a preliminary look at two Ford EVs that will also use the MEB platform and will enter production relatively soon, in 2023 in Cologne, Germany. Both are expected to be about the size of the ID.4, but will feature styling different from each other and from the VW model. The duo is expected to be positioned slightly below the Mustang Mach-E, which relies on Ford's own platform.
Mahindra's models, on the other hand, are expected to enter production at a later timeframe.
"Our vision is to lead the electric mobility revolution in India by bringing authentic electric SUVs with cutting-edge technology, as showcased in the UK today," said Rajesh Jejurikar, executive director, Auto and Farm Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. "We are very pleased to explore further areas of potential collaboration with Volkswagen and are confident that together, we will be able to shape an exciting electric future."