Gaurav Raghuvanshi

Ahmedabad, Aug. 22

THE Chandigarh-based JCBL Ltd, which claims to be the largest bus building company in India, aims to sell at least 100 high-end luxury buses each year.

The company has a tie-up with King Long, a Chinese company, to produce luxury buses in India. In the last few months, JCBL has sold 20 luxury buses in a market that is dominated by Swedish giant Volvo as of now, according to the company General Manager (Marketing), Captain M.S. Grewal.

"Our buses offer better features than those available on Volvo. We launched our product with anti-lock braking system (ABS) as a standard while Volvo introduced it later. We have a retractable step that makes getting in and out easier. Plus, our buses give better mileage and are cheaper to maintain," he said.

The buses are a co-branded product with the "drive line" (chassis, engine and transmission assemblies) coming from China and the body and interiors being built by JCBL at its plant located on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway.

"The market for super luxury buses is growing at 20 per cent per annum and we hope to become a significant player by next year, which will be our first full year of operation," Capt Grewal told Business Line. With Mercedes also waiting in the wings with its products, the market would split into three segments. While Mercedes would occupy the top-end slot, JCBL would have a product line that would offer matching quality at a much lower price, he said. JCBL's bus comes with a sticker price of Rs 53 lakh while Volvo carries a Rs 63-lakh tag. "We expect that the prices would go up in the near future. When Volvo was launched, the price was Rs 36 lakh. We will also raise our prices in the coming months," he added.

JCBL produces nearly 40,000 buses each year. It is the sole OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for Swaraj Mazda and also produces several models of the recently launched `Globus' and `Starbus' range of Tata Motors Ltd.

"We make about 250 buses per month for Swaraj Mazda and about 50 for Tata Motors. In fact, six of the 18 models launched by Tata Motors had been designed by us," Capt Grewal said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 23, 2005)
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