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Saturday, Oct 19, 2002

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Exide to launch batteries for CVs — Service network on highways, in rural areas

Our Bureau

CHENNAI, Oct. 18

EXIDE Industries Ltd plans to shortly launch a battery specifically for commercial vehicles. This is part of the company's thrust on the commercial vehicles segment and rural markets to increase automobile battery sales, according to Mr Paban Kr. Kataky, President, Exide Auto-Trade.

He told a press conference here that the service network in the rural areas and along highways would be strengthened. The company hopes to build rural sales and service network covering 40,000 villages through 2,000 dealers over the next one year.

Through the programme, `Project Kisan' launched recently, Exide Industries has put in place 800 to 900 dealers covering 15,000 villages. The aim is to target the battery replacement segment for tractors, he said.

The potential was estimated at 1.6 million batteries in the tractor market, and Exide did not have a major share for now, he said. Its Jai Kisan tractor batteries have effectively helped tap this segment. However, while not willing to quote numbers, he said that the project had helped to markedly increase the company's presence in this segment.

Through another programme, `Project Highway', the company is strengthening its marketing and service network on the highways to tap the commercial vehicles segment. The market potential here was estimated at about 1.4 million batteries and a service network on the highways would boost Exide's visibility and sales, he said.

Exide has a dominant presence in the original equipment segment with a 90 per cent market share, and 85-90 per cent share in the organised market segment. Tractors and commercial vehicles are expected to sustain Exide in the growth phase. During the current year, the automotive battery division has reported a 25 per cent increase in sales over that of last year, according to Mr Kataky.

According to a press release, Exide has reported a profit after tax of Rs 14.43 crore on gross sales of Rs 272 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2002. Automotive batteries exports have registered 23-per cent growth, motorcycle segment 32 per cent and the fast moving industrial batteries segment five per cent. Exports to Europe are expected to grow significantly in the second half of the current financial year.

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