mahindra layoff

File photo of a Mahindra Roxor utility vehicle with a mounted turret blasting souvenir balls and t-shirts into the crowd during a game between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs at Comerica Park on Aug. 22, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. has cut more than half of the workforce at its North American unit, according to a Reuters report citing two sources familiar with the matter.

The layoffs, according to the sources, are due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing legal tussle.

The sources did not give a figure for the number of jobs lost at the business, which had over 500 employees in early 2020, according to its website, Reuters noted in its report.

However, one of the sources said "hundreds of workers" had been laid off since mid-2020 as part of a restructuring, and that the cuts were as high as two-thirds of Mahindra Automotive North America's total staffing, it said.

Positions include engineers and manufacturing jobs at its plant in Detroit that produces the off-road vehicle Roxor, as well as sales executives.

The cuts come as Mahindra reviewed its businesses in a drive to conserve capital and retain only those that make money or have the potential to be profitable, according to the media outlet.

Mahindra and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are in a protracted legal battle over an intellectual property infringement case which has prevented the Indian automaker from selling its Roxor vehicle in the United States, Reuters noted.

However, last month, the company won a favorable ruling in its lawsuit against FCA, paving the way for it to begin selling the Roxor again, it said.

It now expects to recall a large group of employees, it said in the statement.

As part of its review which began last year, Mahindra has pulled the plug on its U.S. electric scooter business GenZe; it is in talks to sell its stake in South Korean automaker Ssangyong Motor; and it has called off a joint venture with Ford Motor Co., Reuters said.

A Mahindra Group spokeswoman in India said the company will stay firm on implementing capital allocation norms, with a sharp focus on financial returns, driving growth and continued improvement in international subsidiaries, the report said.

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