Mahindra & Mahindra , the diversified automaker that this year overhauled John Deere to become the world's largest tractor maker by volume, is looking to make international acquisitions to enhance its agricultural vehicles and agri-business services products.

"We are actively seeing how we can make some acquisitions which would enhance not just our vehicle portfolio but also things which would help us meet our ambitions in the agri-business area," Anand Mahindra, managing director, told the Financial Times in an interview. He said the group is "open to inorganic moves in tractors in all continents".

Over the past 14 years the Harvard-educated industrialist has expanded his family's business empire to include aerospace, information technology and financial services, creating a group with revenue of USD 12.5 billion in 2011.

The Mumbai-based manufacturer has long held the position as India's leading tractor manufacturer, a market that grew 24% to more than 545,000 units in 2011, according to analysis from ICRA, a research agency.

But the company is looking to expand further into a range of related agricultural services, including irrigation, horticulture and farm technology.

Last week the company launched Mahindra Research Valley, a USD 130 million innovation centre in the southern city of Chennai, designed by Indian architect Charles Correa.

Often cited by management experts as exponents of "frugal" innovation, the centre is part of an attempt by the Indian group to match western competitors with more advanced research and design.

The group, which is also India's biggest sport utility vehicle maker, hopes to increase its presence in the market for electric cars and trucks, having bought a majority stake in Reva, a major producer of commercial electric cars, in 2010.

Later this year the company plans to launch the next generation of its smaller Reva NXR electric car, a model the group hopes will allow the brand to shed a reputation for weak designs.

"The cars will no longer look like Mr Bean's personal ride," Mr Mahindra said. "I hope Londoners will be happier to see a slightly more acceptable looking car, a less quirky-looking car."

Analysts say the move into electric vehicles is a further example of the group seeking to compete in newer and more sophisticated areas outside of its home market.

"There is simply no future for electric cars in India for the foreseeable future. We don't have sufficient power for our homes, so the grid doesn't have the juice for electric cars," said Deepesh Rathore, managing director for IHS Automotive in New Delhi.

"However the market for these cars in European cities is going to grow quickly, and that could be an opportunity, because vehicles made in India would be cheaper than the competition."