Ashok Leyland, the second largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in India, which is mainly focused on the medium and heavy commercial vehicle market in India, aims to become a full- range CV player in India.
Banking on its strong M&HCV portfolio, the company is now looking to expand its range in the light commercial vehicles segment where it has currently products like the Dost and Partner.
According to a PTI report, the company aims to become a full range player in the LCV space and will introduce a mix of updated versions of existing products as well as new ground-up vehicles. Speaking to PTI, Vinod Dasari, managing director, Ashok Leyland, said: “We will add a lot more models. We are planning on our own and we will have a bunch of new models coming in. We will have a full range of LCVs over the next 2-3 years,"
“These new vehicles include new models and platforms in nearly 8-10 different models. This project could see investment of around Rs 300-400 crore and the first of the new product would hit the market within next six months,” said Dasari.
Elaborating further, he said, "We believe in the LCV business and we want to be able to offer full range of vehicles to our customers. We are only in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle space. Many of our customers, who own larger vehicles, also want small vehicles, so we believe in this business and we will continue to invest in this business and grow it."
In a recent interview to Autocar Professional, Dr Seshu Bhagavathula, Chief Technology Officer, Ashok Leyland, hinted that the company has already began work on the LCVs to become a fully range player. “In R&D, typically the work being done on a product will probably appear in the market 2-3 years later. We are working on increasing our product presence there (in the small CV segment) and this will help us to become a full range CV player in the future”, he said.
In 2007, Ashok Leyland entered into three joint ventures with Nissan for its foray in the LCV segment. The company introduced its first product, the Dost in the small CV segment in 2011. The Dost, which is designed for a payload of 1.25 tonnes, is powered by a 55hp, three-cylinder 1.5-litre CRDI engine. Since then, the Dost has sold over 100,000 units but the JV has not able to capitalise on this success by introducing new products.
Last month, Ashok Leyland announced a buyout of all three JVs with Nissan. Under the new phase of business, Ashok Leyland will continue to build, under a licensing agreement, the Dost and Partner LCVs which are based on the Nissan’s design, engineering and technology. This paves for Ashok Leyland to focus completely on expanding its LCV portfolio.
LCV market in recovery mode
The LCV segment, which saw a sustained slump for more than 24 months, has been in recovery mode since October 2015. Growth in the sector is expected to be between 12-15%, thanks to growing demand for last-mile connectivity as a result of a humongous growth in the e-retailing sector.
In 2015-16, the total LCV segment recorded flat sales of 383,331 units as compared to 382,193 units in 2014-15. In the April-August 2016 period, LCV sales have clocked 134,857 units, a 11.23% YoY growth.