Indore-based VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV) has launched green variants of two of its popular trucks in the Eicher Pro-series. The company has introduced the Pro 1049 CNG and the Pro 1059 CNG with a 2.5T and 5T payload capacity respectively, in the Delhi-NCR region including Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
While diesel trucks are prohibited from getting registered in the capital due to the high level of pollution level, the company is looking to push its theme of 'Green Profitability’ and enter the space of light- and medium-duty (LMD) commercial vehicles in the ‘Clean Fuel Corridor', with both the Pro 1049 and the Pro 1059 CNG being allowed to be legally registered in Delhi-NCR.
The Pro 1049 comes powered by the proven E483 four-cylinder, two-valve diesel motor also powering many other models in the Volvo Eicher range. The CNG conversion, however, has seen some innovative solutions like a dual-filling valve and use of stainless steel tubings for the fuel lines, which allow for low wait times at CNG stations as well as better safety and leakage prevention as against mild-steel tubings on offer in some of the competing products, as claimed by VECV.
“It is cities like Delhi-NCR, which are facing the growing problem of pollution and degrading air quality. We did not have a product in the core intra-city, last-mile connectivity space till now. Now, with the option of CNG in the Pro 1049, we are bringing a good value proposition for our customers,” said Shyam Maller, executive vice-president, LMD Trucks and Buses, VECV, at a press meet in New Delhi today.
While the Eicher Pro 1049 comes with a 10-feet cargo body length, the Eicher Pro 1059 offers a 12 feet and a 14 feet option, opening up room for a plethora of applications, including intra-city transfer of poultry products, domestic LPG gas cylinders as well as FMCG products, according to Maller. The Pro 1049 offers a CNG storage capacity of 170 litres.
Banking on demand in sub-5T segment
“We are entering the space of last-mile connectivity for the first time in the region with these offerings and that is the biggest positive for us here. The LMD segment in the commercial vehicle industry, especially in the sub-5T category, has great potential to grow as it addresses the critical last-mile connectivity and distribution network in rural, semi-urban and urban areas.”
“We have been successful in garnering a 26 percent share in this category, and have the most comprehensive CNG range in the LMD segment. Last year, we sold close to 3,000 units in the LMD segment and recorded growth of close to 80 percent,” disclosed Maller.
“Delhi NCR has benefited immensely from the policy thrust to harness inexpensive and clean technologies like CNG, and presents a great opportunity for us to grow further. Our new CNG range in the LCV category underlines our commitment towards clean technology and sustainability, hence driving green profitability and meeting the needs of the end customers.”
As regards customer profile for these products, Maller says that “the numbers would predominantly come from retail individual sales, with fleet sales being almost negligible,” he added.
VECV is targeting the Mahindra Bolero pickup, Tata Ace and the Ashok Leyland Dost with the Pro 1049 CNG and is banking on higher payload capacity, smaller turning radius and a larger cargo body length on drawing buyers.
CNG as a demand driver in NCR
“The NCR is a very low-hanging fruit in terms of CNG because it is regulation-driven and thus we will be looking for some of the innovators present in other cities where the fuel is already available and we will gradually introduce our products there,” said Maller.
While the Pro 1049 and 1059 CNG will be available in cities across Uttar Pradesh like Lucknow, Agra, and Mathura, as well as those in Haryana like Karnal, the company will eventually also venture into Gujarat and progress further down south, creating a snowball effect of expanding the availability of green products across the country.
Focus on BS VI
VECV doesn't plan to enter the small commercial vehicle (SCV) segment where players like Tata Motors with its popular Ace, and even Maruti with its Super Carry operate. “That segment is a really long shot and calls for a completely new product. The entire set of aggregates would need to be different, right from the powertrain, the cabin and the platform, if we were to eye that segment,” said Maller.
“At this point in time, I think our hands are completely full. The BS VI upgradation is the biggest thing that is keeping us totally occupied, besides some export projects that we are doing. So, right now the bandwidth is quite full and we are absolutely committed to ensure that our BS VI capabilities are in place.”
"Moreover, the lower-end segment is all about volumes where one needs to produce and sell in large numbers, create more capacity and have economies of scale, else they'd be priced out of the market. So, it is a very tricky thing and BS VI remains are top focus,” concluded Maller.
In the April-May 2018 period of the ongoing fiscal, VECV has sold a total of 8,657 units, which is a 32.55 percent year-on-year growth. This gives it a market share of 5.79 percent.