The Hinduja group flagship company Ashok Leyland has announced the commercial launch of Dost – its entry vehicle into the light commercial vehicle segment – priced Rs 3.79 lakh to Rs 4.39 lakh (ex-showroom Chennai).

Dost, also the first vehicle from the Ashok Leyland-Nissan joint venture, has a payload capacity of 1.25 tonnes and is available in three versions, with the top-end version featuring air-conditioning, power steering and fabric seats.

The vehicle will be sold under the Ashok Leyland badge, initially in the four southern States. Nearly 40 dealers have been signed on so far and there will be 20 by FY2012. Dost is being manufactured at Leyland's Hosur plant; the first phase will produce 55,000 units a year.

The company has tied up with 10 financiers for vehicle financing.

“There has been request to take Dost to three overseas markets. This will depend on our ramp-up,” said Dr V. Sumantran, Executive Vice-Chairman, Hinduja Automotive.

More launches in Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Leyland-Nissan joint venture will launch more products in the light segment. This will be at the Pillaipakkam facility, near Sriperumbudur, with a capacity of 2,00,000 units. (This unit is also expected to produce medium and heavy commercial vehicles.)

A van-like passenger and cargo vehicle will also be rolled out from Nissan's facility in Oragadam, near Chennai. “This will be launched by the third quarter of 2012,” said Mr Dheeraj G. Hinduja, Chairman, Ashok Leyland.