‘We are now among global top 10 in trucks and top 5 in bus segment’

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on January 22, 2019 Published on January 22, 2019

Vinod Dasari, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Ashok Leyland Limited (ALL) .   -  Bijoy Ghosh

Managing Director and Chief Executive of Ashok Leyland Limited (ALL) Vinod Dasari, who will bid adieu to the company on March 31 after serving for 14 years, says that the Hinduja Flagship has achieved its mission in global truck and bus businesses. He spoke to BusinessLine about the commercial vehicle (CV) industry, emission norms and the results of transformation at the company. excerpts:

Is there any unfinished task you have?

The only unfinished job is the transition. I have been working with Chairman Dheeraj Hinduja, who has been spending a lot of time in India, to identify a successor. The search is still on.

Have you achieved your goals set out during your tenure?

About 7 years ago, we set out a vision that we will be among the Global top 10 in M&HCV trucks and global top 5 in M&HCV buses. Last week we achieved this mission. When 2018 numbers came, we were among the global top 10 in trucks and top 5 in buses. So, we are no longer a small player. Our spare parts penetration is twice that of our competition, while defence portfolio is 10 times better than our competition. This quarter, we will have more than 50 per cent market share in the bus segment.

How you made Ashok Leyland future-ready?

I am happy about two things — we have transformed the company and also built the platforms for its future. Whether its Euro-6 or Electric Vehicle platform, it will be based on a modular concept. ALL will be the one to have a completely modular platform for CVs. So, I can design a truck using mobile phone and have that order directly placed onto my plant to assemble it.

With minimal inventory, faster turnaround time, the modularity will drive our business and we consume 50 per cent lesser parts. Today less than 10 per cent of our vehicles are LHD (left-hand drive)-compliant. From April 2020, 100 per cent of our vehicles will be LHD-compliant and imagine the opportunity on the export markets. So, we will be compliant on Euro 3-6, LHD to RHD and Euro safety standards for cabins. On top of these, we will make everything at half the price of a company in Europe. So, instead of worrying about them coming to India, they better worry about us going there.

How strong are ALL’s R&D capabilities now?

Overall, we have about 2000 engineers across functions. We decided that we will not simply ape whatever is there in Europe. We are focussed on leveraging Indian ingenuity. We were the first one to come up with a mechanical in-line pump on BS-III, iEGR technology for BS-IV. We have sold almost 2 lakh vehicles on iEGR technology. CV is an extremely sensitive market. When a product is not working, it will die immediately as word-of-mouth information is stronger in this market. Also, our innovation by way of swappable battery model for EV bus is also first of its kind. The basis for all these is we could think what is required for India and Indian customers.

In recent years, ALL has been appointing multiple vertical heads. How this model works out?

This model brings us focus. A bus customer has a distinct set of buying factors which are unique compared to a truck customer. In bus segment too, a school bus customer has a different set of buying patterns than an inter-city bus customer. Also, there are different buying factors for STUs. Hence we created different teams to manage it. For instance, in airport buses, we have 80 per cent market share. I don’t know whether you noticed that most of the times airport buses only make a right turn. So the tyre wear is only on one side. How do you correct it? There are so much starts-stops and those buses go only in 20 km speed. So, the specific teams understand the customers’ needs and provide solutions better than anybody else. By doing this, you will win the market share.

Have been able to build strong business outside the country?

One area I would like to have done more is on the international business side. In some markets, we had the product and the distribution – for example Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Middle East, where we are the market leader. We have put up plants in all these countries. In ASEAN, we tried. But 80 per cent of the market is dominated by LCVs in this region and most of it is LHD. We didn’t have adequate LHD products to serve. In some markets like CIS, we found partners.

But from April 2020 onwards, we will have huge advantage to serve international markets effectively.

Published on January 22, 2019
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