Swedish truck major Scania, which exited the bus building business in India, is taking a fresh look at the mining business with the launch of its Next Truck Generation series and the promise of higher productivity and lower cost of ownership. Petr Novotny, Managing Director, Scania Commercial Vehicles India, speaks to Kiran Bajad.
How do you foresee growth in the premium truck market in India over the next 2-3 years?
The premium truck sector in the country is comparatively smaller but growing at a gradual rate. The automotive industry as a whole is currently facing some tough times; however, we are optimistic about the future. With the country’s exponential growth and the government’s infrastructure push, we anticipate further growth in the industry as we have witnessed a rise in expenditure on railways, road projects and construction.
Infrastructure projects such as smart cities have led to an increased need for high-performance tippers and trucks. In addition, the steady growth in coal production has turned into a catalyst for the premium truck industry and ambitious targets set by the National Mineral Policy will further influence the industry positively in the long term.
In the near future, while the country gears up for the implementation of BS VI, we foresee a pre-buying trend ahead of the transition as several fleet operators will advance their purchases to ensure they replace their existing fleet with the new BS VI trucks to beat the price hike.
With the launch of two new products — the NTG tippers — for the mining and construction segments, Scania has renewed its focus in India. What is the strategic growth plan?
As always, India remains an important market for Scania. History will tell you that when Scania enters a country, it is for the long term. We are a global company firmly committed to investing and growing in India. Taking that forward, we have drawn up a five-year strategic vision and mission document for Scania in India. Our 2024 strategy charts out a definite statement, including our vision and mission of a leading contributor to customer profitability by value selling, a pioneer in sustainable transport solutions.
To achieve this, we plan to expand in existing markets and segments, invest in future markets and new segments, and build a scalable and competent organisation.
This year we will continue to expand our footprint in existing segments while looking for possible investment opportunities to diversify in other segments. We look to capitalise on current industry trends while contributing heavily to the market. With our extensive experience in offering transportation solutions for the mining industry, we have launched the NTG range of trucks in India that will supply an array of productivityenhancing services as well as customized transportation solutions.
The premium truck market in India is small but growing rapidly. There are two European players already present in the segment. How do you plan to take on the competition?
At Scania India, the customer always comes first. Our ambition is to be the preferred partner for our customers and we are committed to offering worldclass products and services to achieve this.
What sets us apart in the market is our strong focus on customer satisfaction, consistency, sustainability and innovations. Our business depends on our customers, therefore prioritising the customer is the main objective around which our effort is to deliver solutions to the customers efficiently to increase product productivity, uptime and fuel efficiency and our robust ‘Connected Services’ and ‘Site Optimisation’ offers.
Can you elaborate on Scania’s India vision for India in the medium to long-term?
As mentioned earlier, India remains an important market for Scania. We are a global company firmly committed to investing andgrowing in India. From a short-term perspective, we will continue to expand our footprint in the country and explore strategic investment opportunities to branch out into other segments.
Scania says its BS VI-ready Next Truck Generation series, launched in India on July 4, comes with higher load-carrying capacity, better uptime, more durability, and the highest levels of safety and driver comfort.
We recently launched the NTG range of trucks in India to drive the evolution of India’s transport solutions in the mining, construction and longhaulage business. This range will deliver productivityenhancing services as well as customised transport solutions. Additionally, we will use the local competence and skills to make it a part of our strong global network. We also look forward to testing the market for the haulage segment. While the rest of the country is working towards adopting
BS VI emissions in less than a year, Scania has been ready since 2011. We have been producing Euro 6 trucks since 2011 in Europe and using that expertise, we are prepared for BS VI engines in India.
What are the key challenges in the Indian market compared to other global markets?
The beauty of this country is that it generates immense learnings (in terms of the different operating environment, business models, operating and maintaining practices) that we can ladder up into our global business and adapt faster.
We understand that the success of our business is directly linked to the quality we deliver to our Indian customers and how well their businesses perform. Hence, we continuously strive to learn and understand the Indian customer’s needs as transport companies and our customer’s buyer demand for transport services.
We learn and synergise with our Indian ecosystem partners like L&T, dealers, bodybuilders, financiers, and regulatory authorities. We are not just implementing international best-case practices in India, be it the most fuel-efficient driveline, the safest truck cabin or vehicles with aggregates and bodies for carrying a higher payload.
Alternatively, be it bestin- class site optimisation, fleet management service packages, data-based consulting, driver coaching and uptime management through most trained technicians, we have never shied away when it comes to constantly learn and offer the best solutions to our customers.
From products to services, from parts to contracts to coaching, we are building an India arm that offers unique and complete solutions. In addition, we have every intention to keep learning and excel even further.
In March 2011, Scania became the first manufacturer to introduce trucks with Euro 6 engines on the market, enabling foresighted customers to invest at an early stage in the cleanest emission technology available.
Energy efficiency has been at the core of Scania’s offerings and hence our products have consistently improved performance by enhancing fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. What, according to you, are the key opportunities in the Indian truck market?
Apart from BS VI, we are pioneers in technologies within the truck segment, including real-time tracking, remote diagnostics, and driver coaching. Connected technologies enable us to manage truck fleets to maximise uptime and productivity. The data collected onboard Scania trucks gives valuable insight into driving styles, productivity and economy, allowing our customers with time to focus on improving their core business. This tracking and diagnostics brings significant benefits when it comes to uptime, safety and reducing operating costs.
What do you have to say about Scania's decision to exit the bus-body business in India?
Due to compelling business restructuring reasons, we did shut down the bus body-building unit but continue with our products and services in the mining segment. We have taken the time to re-strategise our business model and products for the Indian market. The Scania India team has put together a five-year strategy and we are excited to work towards achieving it.