2012 Western India Special: Force Motors rolls out new 26-seater Traveller

The company says the Traveller 26 is the only vehicle in its segment to get the cathodic electro deposition dip (CED) painting process for primer application, thereby benefitting from improved rust protection and superior paint quality.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 01 Nov 2012 Views icon8504 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Pune-based Force Motors has launched a new 26-seater minibus named Traveller 26. Using a monocoque shell, the all-new member of the Traveller family is not only unique but also enables the company to foray into the 21-32-seater minibus segment. The company claims the Traveller 26 is the world’s largest monocoque panel van bus.

“Made under license from Daimler AG, the Traveller vehicles in India have grown bigger in terms of size and space over the years. The people- carriers in this segment are known to be built using the traditional chassis platform. The Traveller 26 is built using a monocoque shell, unlike any other 26-seater people-carrier globally,” said Prasan Firodia, MD, Force Motors.

The vehicle is powered by a 2.2-litre CRDI (common-rail direct injection) diesel engine which develops 127bhp of peak power and 30kgm of torque and uses a five-speed gearbox. “Thanks to the new platform, the Traveller 26 weighs 5.2 tonnes unlike other vehicles which weigh over six tonnes in this category. This ensures the best power-to-weight ratio of 24bhp per tonne, providing better pick up, performance and increased fuel efficiency,” explained N K Rattan, COO, tractor business and president, corporate sales and marketing, Force Motors.

The company has spent Rs 50 crore in developing the Traveller 26 which includes designing and developing the new single-shell structure, new suspension and other components. Firodia estimates that “the annual market size of this segment currently stands at 20,000 units and we expect to sell around 4,000 to 4,500 units of the Traveller 26 in the first year which accounts for a 20 percent market share.”

While the company has a manufacturing capacity of 10,000 units of the Traveller 26 per annum at its Pithampur plant, the total capacity for all models within the Traveller family scales up to 26,000 units per year.

Completely designed and developed by Force Motors’ in-house R&D division, the 26-seater has many segment-first features. Besides using pressed steel panels welded together to form the single-shell structure that is bigger than other Traveller models, the vehicle offers more space with wider body interior and full standing height for comfort, ventilated disc brakes on all wheels for effective braking performance, and low-floor height for easy entry and exit, among others.

The company says the Traveller 26 is the only vehicle in its segment to get the cathodic electro deposition dip (CED) painting process for primer application, thereby benefitting from improved rust protection and superior paint quality. “The 26-seater will basically target fleet operators, who conduct leisure tours for tourists, school bus operators, corporate requirements, hospitality industry, and others,” said Rattan.

The Traveller 26 is offered in three variants – the basic model will cost Rs 10,87,600 while the school bus variant and the factory-fitted AC variant cost Rs 11,17,000 and Rs 13,78,000 (all ex-showroom, Delhi) respectively. The company is also working on a CNG variant, which is expected to roll out by next year.

Explaining the gameplan for the product, Firodia said that “though we understand the global potential of this 26-seater people-carrier, our priorities are to address domestic demand. However, we will chalk out a specific export plan by the next financial year.”

The domestic market contributes to 92 percent of Force Motors’ overall sales. The company has sold over 65,000 units of the Traveller family so far and is the largest seller of ambulances in India. The company is also known for making the powertrains and axles for all the locally assembled Mercedes-Benz cars in India which include the C-class, E-class, S-class and the recently launched new Mercedes-Benz ML 250CDI.
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