Dost CNG ready for launch; passenger mover on cards

Ashok Leyland Ltd, the flagship company of the Hinduja group, on Thursday hinted that the company plans to set up another greenfield plant in Tamil Nadu to augment capacities in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment — an area that continues to witness robust growth.

This is part of the proposed investment outlay of Rs 2,400 crore for expansion of existing facilities and also setting up of a new manufacturing base over the next two years.

Dr V. Sumantran, Executive Vice-Chairman, Hinduja Automotive Ltd, said the LCV business in India continues to buck the trend of a general slowdown and witness steady growth. This segment is likely to go the way of most mature markets where the movement of goods in busy cities works on the hub and spoke model.

Addressing a press conference (along with Mr Nitin Seth, Executive Director of LCV, Ashok Leyland) after inaugurating the company's second dealership for LCVs, Dr Sumantran said the LCV market accounted for 47 per cent of all commercial vehicle sales in the country in 2001. This has gone up to about 57 per cent. In developed markets, it is about 70 per cent and India is heading that way.

LCV market

The country's LCV market is estimated to be about 3.8 lakh units a year . Of this, the passenger mover segment accounts for about 20 per cent. “We expect to play a bigger role in the entire LCV business through the launch of more variants, including passenger movers. We have launched several ready-to-use variants on the Dost platform, including an ambulance. One such variant is used in transporting flowers daily to the Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala,” he said.

A CNG variant of Dost has been developed and is ready for launch.

“The company plans to launch one model every six months and a passenger mover is top on the agenda,” he said.

“There is potential to export LCVs to some select markets abroad. But the immediate focus is to cater to the demand in India. We are currently present in four southern States; Gujarat, Maharashtra, and are set to enter Rajasthan. We now have a dealership network of 25 and expect to cover all of India by next year,” he said.

“The company has a capacity to manufacture about 55,000 LCVs a year . Within months, we have garnered a share of 18 per cent. We will ramp up the existing capacity in a phased manner and also set up a new plant within two years,” he said.

(This article was published on February 23, 2012)
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