|NEW DELHI : India’s third-largest commercial vehicle maker, Ashok Leyland, plans to develop a range of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in the sub-5 tonne category. The move will help the company further consolidate its position in the LCV segment, while reducing its dependency on medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MHCVs).|
MHCVs, a segment that has been affected the most by the ongoing demand slowdown, contributed about 70% of Ashok Leyland’s total annual vehicle sales last year.
N. Saravanan, chief technology officer, Ashok Leyland, said in an interview: “We do have an LCV platform that we are developing, but it’s too soon to disclose that. At some point in the near future, we will have an entire range of LCVs going all the way up to 5 tonnes. We are looking at extending the LCV platform to a slightly higher range." The company’s only product in the sub-5 tonne category is Dost and Dost Plus.
With this, Ashok Leyland plans to take on segment leaders Mahindra and Mahindra’s (M&M) Bolero pickup trucks and Tata Motors’ Ace family.
Ashok Leyland’s Dost LCV, which is positioned in the goods carrier category with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 2-3.5 tonnes, sold 49,467 units in FY2019, up 24% year-on-year (y-o-y). Meanwhile, the Bolero powered M&M’s sales to 176,203 units in FY19. In the sub-2 tonne category, Tata Motors reported sales of 156,409 units of the Ace LCV last fiscal year.
Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) data shows that the CV maker has recorded growth in the LCV segment despite the ongoing demand slump. In the April-July period, it recorded 9% y-o-y growth to 16,754 units, against 15% decline to 31,350 units in the wholesale volumes of its MHCVs due to the slowdown in freight movement.
Meanwhile, the flagship company of Hinduja Group on Tuesday said it has become the first CV maker in India to get BS-VI compliance certification from Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) for its complete range of heavy-duty trucks (16 tonnes and above). Affiliated to the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises, ARAI is an autonomous body offering research and homologation services for all vehicle types.
The company’s heavy-duty trucks, or MHCV range cater to mining and construction, haulage and tractor-trailer applications. “All intermediate commercial vehicles (ICVs), including buses, will be BS-VI compliant in the next few weeks as the process of homologation is underway," Saravanan said.
He added that the roll out strategy of the all-new, BS-VI compliant CVs will depend upon the availability of BS-VI grade fuel (diesel). “We are closely working with the oil companies. As soon as we see the availability of BS-VI grade fuel in key corridors, we will start rolling out these trucks."
Saravanan, however, refused to divulge whether BS-VI compliant MHCVs will be priced higher. Ashok Leyland has developed an all-new modular vehicle platform for 16 tonne and above trucks, including tippers, mining trucks and haulage vehicles. Under the platform, known as the MBP programme, the transition to BS-VI emission norms will be carried out and existing MHCV platforms will be discontinued from April 2020. “The model allows you to mix and match the various component systems in a seamless manner. The idea is to meet customer requirements, which is primarily having customized variants for various applications, without building up too much of inventory of various parts," Saravanan said.