The strong recovery in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle (M&HCV) segment in India after almost two years of slow sales has prompted manufacturers to develop better products to get a slice of the growing market.
Mahindra Truck and Bus Division (MTBD), a part of the Mahindra Group, has recently revitalised its focus on the HCV segment by introducing a new heavy commercial truck series called ‘Blazo’ and is set to cash in on the recovery in the domestic M&HCV market.
ALL-NEW BLAZO RANGE DRIVES IN
Using the platform of the Auto Expo 2016 in New Delhi, MTBD unveiled its new Blazo truck range which includes haulage, tractor-trailer and tipper versions, all equipped with ‘FuelSmart’ technology. FuelSmart is essentially the introduction of a BS IV-compliant CRDe engine coupled with a multi-drive mode feature (Turbo, Heavy and Light) which will help truck drivers select a mode depending upon the load and road conditions, thus helping in better vehicle turnaround time and operational cost efficiency.
Besides offering a driver information system, MTBD has worked on lightweighting of the truck which has resulted in higher payloads. As the Indian market has not completely moved to BS IV, the Blazo will be available in common-rail engine and mechanical options with BS III and VI version.
According to Dr Pawan Goenka, executive director & president (Automotive & Farm Sector), Mahindra & Mahindra, “Our truck and bus business has been growing steadily and is taking full advantage of the buoyancy in the HCV segment. We are confident that new Blazo HCV range will further enhance our position in the market by significantly improving the customer value proposition”.
Speaking on the Blazo trucks, Nalin Mehta, chief executive officer, MTBD, said, “Our mileage guarantee is a clear vindication of our engineering excellence and our resolve to provide a better value proposition to customers. The service guarantee is the outcome of our strong focus on aftersales network by leveraging group synergies and organic growth in the service touch-points and spares retailer network.”
In a bid to beef up its product in the hugely competitive HCV segment, MTBD is looking to win over buyers with a guarantee of better fuel economy with the Blazo compared to existing trucks. Keeping a truck running is very critical for higher profitability and MTBD is also guaranteeing uptime on its breakdown service by getting the truck back on the road within 48 hours or else it will compensate the customer by paying Rs 1,000 every single day.
MTBD says that its existing range of HCV trucks comprising of Truxo multi-axle trucks, Torro Tippers and Traco tractor with trailers with BS III compliance will continue to be available.
While the engine technology belongs to Navistar but as part of the JV, Mahindra has taken on the technology and subsequently improved it. The new Mahindra HCV engines are based on the same platform but have seen a lot of optimisation. According to MTBD, the new mPower 7.2-litre FuelSmart engine, in combination with the multimode switches, delivers top-notch performance and high fuel efficiency without short changing during power, pickup or pulling.
Speaking about the company’s strategies on the overall commercial vehicle segment, Nalin Mehta said, “We are working full swing to becoming a full range commercial vehicle player. There are major developments underway in the intermediate commercial vehicle (ICV) and medium commercial vehicle (MCV) segments, starting from 8 tonnes to 16 tonnes. We have already finalised various engineering designs. Pininfarina (which the Mahindra Group acquired recently) has worked with us to do the engineering. We will launc the ICV and MCV in the next two-and-a-half years.”
MTBD says more than 16,500 of its M&HCVs, manufactured at the Chakan plant, currently ply on Indian roads. Mahindra is also looking to leverage the synergies of an integrated manufacturing facility of its group for the CV business. In a bid to draw customer, the company has a 5-year or 500,000km transferable warranty. The aftersales network is also being beefed up. The company’s aftersales service and spares network now comprised 72 full-fledged 3S dealerships, 90 authorised service centres and 2,900 roadside assistance points. A large spare parts network of 1,777 retail outlets further improves the company’s supply chain for customers on important trucking routes.
The company also has India’s first multi-lingual helpline, NOW, which is manned by technical experts to provide instant support to customers. The NOW mobile service vans and mobile workshops further add to the reach and agility of the support network.
MTBD EYES A LARGER SLICE OF THE M&HCV MARKET
The M&HCV (goods carrier) market in India has, for decades, been dominated by Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland. While Tata Motors currently has a 55 % market share, Ashok Leyland has 30% and MTBD 2.5%.
Mahindra clearly wants to make the most of the gradually improving sales in the M&HCV segment, which is being driven by the increasing governmental and private sector spend on developing the country’s infrastructure. The Blazo range, armed with the customer-friendly fuel efficiency and breakdown recovery guarantees, is aimed at drawing new buyers to its fold. Truck buying decisions are often decided on factors like initial cost, discounts, fuel economy and best aftersales service as operators seek maximum returns on their investment.
During April 2015-January 2016, MTBD sold 4,347 of its 25-, 31-, 35-, 40- and 49-tonners, growing a strong 61 percent YoY. It also sold 1,821 units of its 25-tonne rigid trucks and 1,441 units of 31-tonne rigid haulage trucks. The M&HCV goods carriers segment, which is the biggest in value and volumes in the overall CV segment, saw sales of 202,501 units in the same period, thus accounting for Mahindra having a 2.15% market share.
It’s early days yet for the Blazo series but from all accounts MTBD is serious about the latest M&HCV player on the block. Given the momentum the M&HCV market is currently witnessing, it shouldn’t be long before the new range brings in the numbers Mahindra is looking for.