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With VolVo Buses, the future is a friendlier place. Volvo builds buses for people, with a holistic approach. Safety, quality, comfort, convenience, environment and efficiency are critical considerations. Our innovations focus on concern for those who build the bus, drive it, ride in it and share the roads with us.


Safety that means care

Better Environment

Complete Bus Solutions

Volvo buses are built and tested to stand up to the daily rigors of operations, operating for over 12 to 15 years in many cities around the world.

Volvo builds safer automobiles. In India our products are setting the standards in safety with features like: electronic braking systems, electronic suspension, excellent driver environment, roll-over protection, anti-skid protection, rear view camera, front under-run protection and optimum engine power among others.

At the basic level, when a bus helps move people from their personal vehicles to public transport, the saving on fuel and resultant emissions is profound. We are going to see more and more of this effect in the days to come as the Volvo bus network grows.

One-stop solution is the key to success of today’s transportation needs. At Volvo Buses in India, we pioneered this approach by setting up the first-of- its kind complete bus production facility, built along the Volvo global standards and business practices to offer worldclass products. The one-stop solution offers consultancy, a range of inter-city and city buses, driver training, a choice of service agreements and after-sales support.

Quality is also a key component why Volvo Buses stand tall in life-cycle costs. De-congesting cities These buses move with utmost ease amidst city conditions, providing comfort & safety that can inspire people to move away from their personal vehicle to public transport – with no second thoughts. Volvo is today a leader in BRT systems around the world.

Volvo has always met or exceeded local emission regulations. Now, we are ready for the next step – Euro IV, Euro V. Volvo has also introduced the world’s first commercially viable Hybrid buses - already in service in cities such as London and Stockholm.

*Accessories shown in the pictures are not part of the standard equipment.

Volvo ITS4Mobility solutions coupled with advanced vehicle management systems enable efficient information & real-time traffic management for public transport systems. Volvo Buses India Private Limited Yalachahally, Tavarekere Post, Hosakote Taluk Bangalore 562 122 Telephone: +91 80 6712 1200 Fax: +91 80 6712 1222

VolVo Buses. When productiVity counts

FGF_Volvo.indd 1

10/7/2009 2:19:17 PM

Rs. 100

Talking Heads Mysore’s public transport revamp • Mahanagar Gas in expansion mode

At the heart of the indian trucks & bus industry Volume 4 Issue 1 • October 2009

Amphibious marve ls Low-cost hydrogen for 3-wheelers

Kotkar’s mobile cellular transmission tower

Straightdrive Over a period of time, magazine anniversaries tend to become hackneyed – more like rites of passage. That should have been the case in the lead up to this magazine’s third anniversary as well. But things did not pan out that way. Time has actually progressed in a merry blur. Only now has it dawned upon, Ahfaaz, Praveen, Ram, Kiran, Sawan and yours truly that we have been working 12 hours a day for more than a month now! In the process, a few road, rail and air miles have been notched up, but none on water. That is a job for the Duck Bus. Our cover story talks about this unique amphibious animal, thus far only seen in the US, Europe, Singapore, and China. Mumbai and Goa are soon to receive their first buses. Expect excitement in the tourist scene, especially with 60 minute rides starting at just Rs 100. If buses are what you fancy, we have a couple of interesting stories. The KSRTC is acquiring 150 buses for Mysore under JNNURM funding. Along the same lines, Pune’s Prasanna Group has made a shift from its traditional inter-city bus transport services business and has gone the city bus way. Already 60 Prasanna buses are on Jalgaon’s roads with more to be demanded in that city as well as some others. To keep city buses going, at least in Mumbai, the Mahanagar Gas Limited has embarked on a massive expansion drive. The target is to hitch all of the 3,800 BEST buses onto the CNG bandwagon. Now, let’s not leave out the trucks. SIAM’s 49th annual convention saw industry leaders discuss the state of the CV industry. Their insights about the idiosyncratic structure of the Indian CV industry makes for some interesting reading. Even otherwise, we have a strong line-up of interviews with industry titans. They tell us that the times may have been bad, but there is enough happening to keep them cautiously optimistic about the future. Then, there is of course coverage of the launch of Mercedes-Benz’s Actros 4841 K. This BS III compliant monster tipper now comes with a heated floor and some smart features. At the other end of the size scale, Tata Motors came out with the Super Ace and a pickup version of the 407. Rounding off the truck bit is a story on Kotkar Energy Dynamics’ mobile cellular transmission towers. Telecom service providers will want it to test market their services without having to wait for months to set up static towers. Three-wheelers also receive their due in this issue. First off, is a story on the development So far Duck Buses, have only of a new catalytic converter kit by a team from been seen in the US, Europe, Bangalore’s RV College of Engineering. Wa- Singapore and China. ter may now be electrolysed within the threewheeler to generate hydrogen and oxygen that help combustion of petrol in the engine. Secondly, there is an analysis of Bajaj’s strategy to come out with the RE600, a 600 kg payload three-wheeler, when competition is actively mulling 0.5 tonne payload fourwheelers. Finally, on to construction equipment. In setting up its first ever factory outside China in India, LiuGong has defied the popular stereotype of a cut-and-run Chinese company. Staying on CE, it has been a real pleasure to travel to Naxal-territory Chattisgarh and see JCB’s wheeled loaders and excavators in action. You do not have to go so far. The issue is in your hands. Happy reading! Sridhar Chari

Commercial Vehicle Magazine 401B, Gandhi Empire, 5th Floor, 2 Sareen Estate, Kondhwa Road, Pune 411 040. India Tel +91-20-32930291 / 2 Fax +91-20-26830465 Email us at Executive Editor Test Editor European Editor Staff Writers Group Art Director and Production-in-Charge Art Director Senior Designers Assistant Designer Photographer Production Executive Administrative Executive Publisher Associate Publisher

Sridhar Chari Aspi Bhathena Michael Smith Ahfaaz Khan, Ram Kumar Ramaswamy, Kiran Bajad, Bunny Punia, Adhish Alwani, Ajay Joyson Atul Bandekar Ramnath S Chodankar Praveen B Nambiar Ravi Parmar Varun Kulkarni Sawan Sekhar Hembram Dinesh Bhajnik Roshni Bulsara Khushroo Bhadha Marzban Jasoomani

Regional Marketing Manager (North & East) Ellora Dasgupta Regional Manager (Tamil Nadu and Kerala) A. Mageshwar Assistant Manager Advertising (Delhi) Chanchal Arora Area Advertising Managers Niladri S Majumdar (Mumbai), Pramod Udupa (Bangalore), Y. Lingeswaran (Chennai) Response Executive Minocher Parakh (Mumbai) Sr. Response Executive Sachi Kumar (Delhi) National Manager — Circulation & Subscription K Srikanth Assistant Circulation Managers Kapil Kaushik (Delhi) Sanjeev Roy (West) Subscription Supervisor Sachin Kelkar Tel +91 22 67525220 Fax +91 22 24448289 Regional marketing offices Next Gen Publishing Ltd. 2nd Floor, Khatau House, Mogul Lane, Mahim (W), Mumbai – 400016, India Tel +91 22 43525252 Fax +91 22 24448289 24 & 30 Okhla Industrial Estate, Phase III, Okhla, New Delhi - 110020, India Tel +91 11 42345678 Fax +91 11 42345679 #903, 9th Floor, ‘B’ wing, Mittal Towers, MG Road, Bangalore -560001, India Tel +91 080 66110116 Unit No. 30, 3rd Floor, Modern Towers, No. 35/23 West Cott Road, Royapettah, Chennai - 600014, India Tel +91 44 39149889/90/91 Fax +91 11 39149892 Chandan House, 3rd Floor, Mithakhali Six Roads, Ahmedabad - 380006, India iews and opinions expressed in the magazine are not necessarily V those of Next Gen Publishing Ltd. Next Gen Publishing does not take the responsibility for returning unsolicited material sent. No part of the magazine may be reproduced in part or full without the prior express written permission of the publisher. Published by Khushroo Bhadha Next Gen Publishing Ltd., 2nd Floor, Khatau House, Mogul Lane, Mahim (W), Mumbai - 400016. Printed by Khushroo Bhadha Next Gen Publishing Ltd., 2nd Floor, Khatau House, Mogul Lane, Mahim (W), Mumbai - 400016. Printed at Kala Jyothi Process Pvt. Ltd, 1-1-60/5 RTCX Roads, Hyderabad - 20. Published at Next Gen Publishing Ltd., 2nd Floor, Khatau House, Mogul Lane, Mahim (W), Mumbai - 400016. Copyright 2006 COMMERCIAL VEHICLE All readers are recommended to make their own independent enquiries before sending money, incurring expenses or entering into commitments in relation to any advertisement appearing in the publication. Commercial Vehicle does not vouch for any claims made by advertisers for their products and services. The editor, publisher, printer and employees of the publication shall not be held liable for any consequence in the events of such claims not being honoured by the advertisers. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent courts and forums in Mumbai only. Executive Editor Sridhar Chari

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 

What’s inside Straight Drive Sridhar Chari

what’s inside




CV News


Bajaj Auto unveils RE600

Thinking differently from competition, Bajaj has launched a 600 kg payload three-wheeler instead of a 500 kg payload four-wheeler.



Mercedes-Benz rolls out Actros 4841 K Besides BS III compliance, the new truck boasts of a heated body tipper and a host of other cost-saving and safety-enhancing features.

Pune-based Kotkar Energy Dynamics Private Limited promises a good show with its mobile telecommunication towers and host of other customised applications.

Tata Motors’ awesome threesome

The company aims to gain further ground in the LCV space with the introduction of three new age light cargo carriers.


JCB’s heavies shine in Chattisgarh

The strong mining segment coupled with a recent surge in road building activity is generating steady demand for JCB’s excavators and wheel loaders.


Cash COW


Cover Story

Duck Buses: Amphibious Marvels


These buses are perfectly comfortable on land as well as water. After rocking the global tourist scene, they will soon be in India.

LiuGong pulls no punches

The Chinese construction equipment maker’s recently inaugurated Pithampur plant marks it as a player for the long haul.

70 88

Mysore’s public transport revamp

An impressive tally of 150 buses are to be acquired and 7 Integrated Multi-Modal Transport Centres (IMTCs) are to be set up.

Siam data


100 150

Prasanna Group bullish on city bus operations After carving a niche in the intercity bus arena, Prasanna Group aims to script a similar success story in the city bus space as well


We welcome suggestions, feedback, comments, bouquets and brickbats on how the magazine is shaping up and what you would like to see and read more about. Write in to:  / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

To Subscribe turn to page



Hydrogen to partly fuel three-wheelers

SIAM mulls future of CV industry

Bangalore’s RV College of Engineering has come out with a catalytic converter kit that will electrolyse water and infuse hydrogen and oxygen into the engine to improve fuel combustion.

Industry leaders came to a conclusion that in the light of its many vagaries and inefficiencies, the growth of the Indian CV industry will continue to be in a pattern that is its very own.

On The Move

MGL buoyant on CNG The Mumbai based natural gas distribution company has lined up some massive expansion plans over the next two to here years.

96 october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 

what’s inside




Abhay Firodia

R. Seshasayee

Ravi Pisharody

CMD of MAN FORCE TRUCKS & Force Motors

MD, Ashok Leyland

President, Commercial Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors

Hakan Samuelsson Chairman MAN SE





Dr. Pawan Goenka

Ravi Chopra

Vipin Sondhi

Siddhartha Lal

M&M Automotive Sector President and President SIAM

CMD, Piaggio Vehicles Private Limited

MD and CEO, JCB India


T alking Anirudh Bhuwalka MD and CEO, Asia MotorWorks

134 10 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Akash Passey MD, Volvo Buses India Pvt. Ltd.


H eads Neeraj R S Kanwar

A.S Mehta

MD, Apollo Tyres Ltd

Director, Marketing, JK Tyre



0091 – 9727784300

We closed the issue. Finally! Since we had expended so many words on the stories, thought it was time to be economical while describing the Team:

Ahfaaz Khan Praveen Nambiar Patient, Persistent, Creative, Consistent, Prolific Capable

Kiran Bajad Sincere, Ram Kumar Soulful, Ramaswamy Serene Maverick,

Sridhar Chari : No Comments! 12 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Sawan Sekhar Hembram Agile, Adept, Adaptable

Malleable, Multi-faceted

letters to cv

Rs. 100

Buorsesbs? ca Escorts thinks end to end • Terex Vectra fine tunes strategy

of Cool cabs need strategic re-orientation PPMEISRE I K r E e H t C S Let month D EOUWTS HUGE PRO SH The story on cool cabs was very interest- are many individuals in both the At the heart of the indian trucks & bus industry

Volume 3 Issue 12 • September 2009

ing to read. I am a frequent traveller between Mumbai and Pune and I frequently use these services to shunt between the two cities. I was not at all surprised to hear that a cab has to wait for almost four days to get a return fare. Cool cabs operators point a finger at illegal taxies as the bigger dampener for their operations. Though this is indeed a factor, there are other reasons as well for the decline in cool cabs operations. One of the most important factors is the operation of luxury air conditioned buses between Mumbai and Pune. The illegal taxies were always operational on the Mumbai-Pune route, but there was a class of safety and comfort conscious passengers who never boarded these taxes. It is this kind of passengers who eventually opted for cool cab services. With the start of luxury buses between the two cities, the some of these safety and comfort conscious passengers have now shifted from cool cabs to luxury buses. This is where the cool cabs have been hit very badly. The other reason is the increase in the number of personal vehicles between the two cities. Because of the expressway, there

the cities who prefer to travel by their own vehicles. But having said that, the important question one needs to ask is about the future of cool cab operators. I think it they want to survive; they should do away with the strategy of operating within select cities. Moreover they should also try to tap more of the tourist segment. Safety is a big concern among tourists and if cool cabs can assure tourists on this aspect, they might also get a fair amount of business. But since very few tourists will be seen at railway stations, cool cabs operators may want to consider setting up bases at airports and some important hotels. The situation seems to be now or never for cool cab operators. 09 CV_September_cover.indd 1

■ Sanket Deshmukh, Pune

Deutsche Kipper holds potential I wish to compliment Deutsche Kipper India Private Limited for products like the small tipper on the Tata Ace and the three-way tipping variant. I think the provision of lifting the body before tipping will not only do away with the need to use manual methods to remove the last few portions of garbage, but this will also hasten the entire garbage disposal process. A number of Municipal Corporations are working very proactively on waste management and consequently there appears to be a decent enough market for the innovative tipper on Tata Ace. It would be nice if Deutsche could use this lift and tip technology for bigger tippers which can be used in wagon loading applications. The three way tipper is also a very interesting proposition. I think such a tipper will be readily accepted by the Indian army in its road building activities on hilly terrain. Besides these products, I would suggest a tipping tanker. Recently, I witnessed a strange decantation method at a fuel station. To draw out the last few litres of petrol at the bottom of the tank, the petrol tanker

was moved forward, for a couple of metres and then reversed. At this point the driver braked heavily. The idea was to drive the petrol at the rear end of the tanker to the front portion where the evacuating pipes were located. Though this method gave the desired results, the tanker was moved to and fro 6-7 times for just a little bit more fuel. A few litres may not count for much in a truck, but ask a HP, BP or IOC as to how many tankers do they own/use at any given point in time. That is what brings me to tipping tankers. Since tipping is needed for only a few litres of liquid inside the tanker, I don’t think one would need a very strong tipping mechanism to perform that activity. Apart from fuel, a tipping tanker can also be used for transporting other liquified commodities like milk and water. Tankers are still to get their due from manufacturers and it would be nice if companies like Deutsche Kipper go down this road. ■ Mahesh Reddy, Hyderabad

Pen down your views and queries to Commercial Vehicle, NextGen Automotive, 401 B Gandhi Empire, 5th Floor, 2 Sareen Estate, Kondhwa Road, Pune 411040, INDIA. or Fax +91 20 26830465 or Email

16 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

8/31/2009 1:13:40 PM

CV Monitor


news / cv monitor

Piaggio rolls out Ape Truk Plus


iaggio has launched the Ape Truk Plus, a 1- tonne payload minitruck in Chennai. Piaggio claims to have wedded both high fuel efficiency and power and pick-up in the vehicle. The 870 cc twin-cylinder engine provides 17 HP of pulling force. This direct-injection 4-stroke, naturally aspirated, water-cooled diesel engine offers a mileage of 22 km per litre. The five speed synchromesh gearbox allows for right speeds at right loads. The vehicle’s high ground clearance is an extra bonus on tough roads. The Ape Truk Plus priced at Rs 2.76 lakh (ex-showroom, Chennai). This truck is the second in the small four-wheeled commercial vehicle space for Piaggio, following the sub-one tonner Ape Truk which was launched two years ago. Already 20,000 Ape Truks have been sold.

The 865 kg payload mini-truck is priced at Rs 2.25 lakh. With these two variants, Piaggio aims to double its market share to 20 percent among sub-one tonners. Piaggio has its task cut out. Market leader Tata Motors which launched the Ace in 2005, has recently fired a fresh salvo with the 1-tonne payload Super Ace. Talking to this magazine, Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Limited CMD Ravi Chopra said that Ape Truk Plus is a cog in the company’s strategy to come out with a range of 0.5-1.5 tonne payload mini-trucks. The company is working on a 0.5 tonne payload mini-truck, as also 1.5 tonne payload aniRear : Drum Parking >> Mechanical at rear wheels Chassis >> Monocoque Chassis with pressed steel long members

M&HCV sales positive for the first time since June 08

mal. Chopra tells us that by 2010, both the Ape Truk Plus and the new 1.5 tonner will receive Piaggio’s own engines. The company’s BS IV and V compliant 1 – 1.2 litre engines will be made at the Baramati plant. In order to carve a stronger presence in the market, Piaggio intends to leverage its 850 sales and service outlets across the country. The company’s installed capacity stands at 24,000 four wheelers and 1.8 lakh three wheelers per annum currently. Next year would see Piaggio launch a four-wheeler passenger vehicle. A smaller petrol fuelled three-wheeler from the company’s stables is also expected to challenge Bajaj Auto. ■

Suspensions >> Front : McPherson Strut with coils Hydraulic double acting telescopic shock absorbers with anti roll-bar Rear : Twist beam cross-arm hydraulic double acting telescopic shock-absorbers Engine >> Type : Twin cylinder Direct Injection 4-stroke, naturally aspirated, water-cooled diesel engine

norms will apply to 11 Indian cities initially while BS 3 will be mandated in the rest of India by April 2010. Tata Motors will phase out 15 of its BS 2 truck models, who cannot be upgraded to BS 3 norms. This change will account for 10 percent of Tata Motors’ entire range. Experts opine that, the revival path will continue between October to December on account of a lower base. The MHCV segment plunged 50 percent during the same period in FY 2008. ■


fter a thirteen month slump, the August sales figures for medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCVs) are back in green territory. Major truck makers as Tata Motors and Eicher have seen the demand rise for the heavy vehicles since this June. The hard hit Ashok Leyland has also posted growth, though only about one percent. Though the growth is just 0.9 percent over last August (at 6,210 vehicles), the recovery is picking up since the increase in

Weight (in Kilos) >> Gross wt : 1810 Kerb wt : 810 Payload : 1000

Tyres >>

Seating >>

155 R 13 Radial

Driver + 1

Chassis Dimensions (in mm) >>

Add on accessories >>

Maximum Engine Output : 12.67 KW @ 3600 rpm / 17 HP

Overall Length : 3675

Roof lamp with integrated rear view mirror

Maximum Torque : 43.5 Nm

Wheel Base : 1820

Both sides Sun-visors

Capacity : 870 cc

Max Width : 1460

Clear lens headlamps with integrated blinkers

Clutch >>

Max Height : 1750

Single Plate Dry-Friction Diaphragm type

Cargo Deck (L x W x H) : 2240 x 1460 x 440

Mobile charger, Retractable seat belt, Wind screen washer

Gear Box >>

Mini Ground clearance : 170

Synchromesh 5 - forward, 1 Reverse

Minimum Turning Circle Radius : 3.85 m

Steering >>

Fuel Tank >>

Mechanical rack and pinion

28 ltrs

Single-key operation for door, steering, spare tyre and fuel tank

Brakes >>

Performance >>

Aerodynamic body design

Hydraulic Dual-Circuit TMC self adjusted

Max Gradeability : 18 percent

Warranty >>

Front : Disk

Maximum speed : 65 kmph

8 free services for upto 12 months or 36000 kilometers

18 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

government spending on infrastructure development projects demand these vehicles. Further, the government had extended accelerated depreciation benefits until September. Also, since repayment of existing loans by the truckers has become consistent, banks are now willing to offer better terms for new truck purchases. The upcoming change in emission norms could also be a trigger for CV purchases. From April 1, 2010, Bharat Stage 4

Battery inside the cabin Spare tyre, three side openable panels for comfortable loading

Wuling plans vans from GM’s India plants


hinese auto major SAIC Motor Group, is in initial talks with General Motors to buy one of the latter’s Indian plants to make and sell its Wuling vans. In alliance with SAIC, GM now makes mini vans and Chevrolet Spark cars in Chinese Guangxi province in their mini-CV Joint venture. The figures for GM Wuling Automobile Co rose 123 percent to 88,711 units in August thus accounting for one third of GM’s total China sales. The sales figures of this venture have went up considerably after China halved the purchase tax on smaller vehicles. GM has a 34 percent stake in Wuling at present. Since GM wants to increase its stake in Wuling, part of SAIC, GM may be willing to facilitate market access for the latter in India. To illustrate the global reach of Wuling, GM is now exporting the N200 mini-van made in China to markets in South America, North Africa and the Middle East. ■ october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 19

CV monitor / news

news / cv monitor

IOC to set up hydrogenCNG fuel station


ndian Oil Corporation has set up the country’s first hydrogen blended compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station in Delhi. IOC has decided on an 18:82 blend between hydrogen and CNG. This is because, safety norms for Hydrogen - CNG blends upto 20:80 percent, need the same infrastructure as for 100 percent CNG. Currently, this station can fuel 15 three wheelers a day. It is equipped with an electrolyser for producing hydrogen and a compressor along with a buffer storage facility. Capitalising on this experience, IOC is keen to set up a bigger facility at the upcoming Commonwealth Games village in Delhi to ferry the athletes in 2010. Progress on the front will however depend upon the Delhi Government allotting land. Big lead up The filling station is result of four years of research at IOC’s R&D Center at Fari-

dabad. Starting from October 2005, regular field trials have been underway, with the participation of auto majors such as Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra, Bajaj and Eicher Motors. Three-wheelers, cars and mini-buses fuelled with blends containing 5-50 percent hydrogen were sent through extensive tests. The Indian Hydrogen Energy Road map has an agenda to have at least one million vehicles being fuelled by hydrogen until 2020. Rigorous research is going on to bring about a revolution by running mechanical engines and fuel cells on hydrogen. The immediate focus is on improving the production, storage, transport and delivery mechanism of hydrogen to make it more viable. ■

FAW–Ural India venture rolls out buses


he Chinese auto major First Automobile Works (FAW) has roll out its first city bus from its Haldia facility, West Bengal in collaboration with Ural India, the Indo-Rus-

20 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

sian Joint Venture. The initial 100 luxury buses will be produced by October. With the phasing out of 15 year old buses in Kolkata; FAW-Ural aims to tap the market resulting from this development. Luxury, semiluxury and ordinary buses with prices ranging from Rs.30 lakh to Rs.50 lakh are to be put out by the JV. These city buses, in both AC and non-AC variants would have standing accommodation for the commuters as well. The buses are significantly assembled in China, with only a few parts being localised. FAW has agreed to

invest around Rs.1,500 crore in the first phase of the venture which also has a stake from the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation. So far, FAW-Ural JV has met a few roadblocks in acquiring land for their facility. The company had initially envisioned a 500 acre factory for its trucks, buses and small car projects. But Ural India is now making trucks, dumpers and special anti-mine vehicles out of only a 100 acre facility in Haldia. With the production of defence trucks getting delayed, Ural India has even started producing truck chassis from an alternate location. So far, the West Bengal government has not followed through on its promise to offer 300 acres of land to Ural. Now, with an ambitious plan in the works to manufacture an Rs 1.5 lakh small car, Ural seeks 200 acres at the minimum. ■ october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 21

CV monitor / news

AC tractor market hots up


ractor drivers, who have sweated in hot Indian summers, can now breathe easy. AC cabins are here. Leading the way is International Tractors Limited, which is now all set to launch its AC Sonalika tractors in the 60, 75, 90 and 120 HP ranges. Thus far, these tractors were only meant for export markets. Currently, there are a sizeable number of farmers in agriculturally advanced states like Punjab, who add AC cabins to their 45-55 HP tractors. The benefit of such fitments is that farmers who used to average 5-6 hours per day, now plough tirelessly for as many as 15 hours. Typically, the AC cabins are fabricated by local bus body builders. They require additional investments of more than Rs 1 lakh. Now, with OEMs offering fully built AC tractors, the incremental cost for the AC fitment is believed to be lower. Following ITL, Mahindra under its Swaraj brand will also introduce AC tractors. It has products in the 55 to 72 HP bracket. Not only are the tractors equipped with ACs, but also heaters that will help Indian farmers take on the harsh winters. Swaraj has already developed AC cabins for export models of its combine and harvesters. In addition to concern for their working environment, Indian farmers buy such as a status symbol too in the rural context. Taking up from this, John Deere’s upcoming 89 HP AC tractor is eagerly awaited despite a projected tag in excess of Rs 15 lakh. ■26 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

CV monitor / news

MTC to add 1,000 buses by December under JNNURM


hennai’s Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) will get 1,000 more buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) scheme by the end of this year. The induction will happen in two phases, with the first lot of 300 buses to join MTC by end September. The remaining 600 buses are expected to be delivered in a phased manner by November. All of them are semi-low-floor buses costing Rs.20 lakh apiece. Orders for 100 more Volvo city buses costing Rs 80 lakh each are soon to be placed. MTC currently

has a fleet strength of 30 AC buses. MTC plans to use 40 percent of the new semi-low floor buses to replacing ageing vehicles, while the rest will be added to the working fleet. In fact, MTC has about 1,000 buses which are 10-12 years old, considering the average fleet age of 7-8 years. Presently, MTC plies a fleet of 3,350 buses, with 3,000 on road and the rest stationed as spares at depots. Plying on 650 routes, the MTC carries as many as 50 lakh passengers covering about 8 lakh kilometers in 40,000 trips everyday. This fetches them daily revenues of Rs 1.8

crore. The addition of 1,000 buses will potentially increase these revenues by Rs 30 lakh. Overall, orders for 1,500 buses have already placed for Tamil Nadu, of which 900 will be for MTC and 300 each for Coimbatore and Madurai Transport Corporations. Ashok Leyland will supply 1,000 of them, while Tata Motors will provide the rest. Chennai will thus see a total working fleet of 4,000 buses by this year end. Raising concerns Last year saw 145 people die from accidents involving MTC buses in Chennai and its suburbs. As of July 2009, Chennai has seen 75 fatalities. The Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP) is concerned about unruly MTC drivers, who are alleged to be careless in the rush to finish their assigned trips. Most MTC drivers average 120 to 150 km per shift for their trips. Everyday, Chennai adds more than 800 newly registered vehicles to its already clogged and limited road space. This has resulted in heavy traffic, hindering MTC drivers from completing their schedules on time. However, MTC officials deny these allegations saying that 2,000 buses have been added to the fleet lately. Further, it is claimed that 3,000 of the 8,000 drivers on its rolls are accident-free. Finally, buses are said to arrive at the depots, 10-15 minutes prior to their scheduled time. ■

Apollo Tyres launches ‘Super Tyre world’


pollo Tyres has launched the ‘Super Tyre World’ outlet in Bangalore. It will specialise in tyre sales, fitment, wheel-balancing and alignment and nitrogen filling; thus allowing Apollo to become a one-stop shop for passenger vehicle needs Apollo Tyres has been working on 28 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

sprucing up its brand. It has been sporting a new logo from the first quarter of this year. An UK based firm Saffron has helped the company change the earlier blackand-red scheme to a new vibrant purple and orange scheme, moderated by shades of grey.

Modi–Continental join hands again

The global website of Apollo has been revamped as well, now sporting five distinct blocks namely, Corporate, India, South Africa, Europe and other markets. There are also a host of interactive platforms for the company to interact with customers. ■


lobal tyre maker, Continental AG, has revived its collaboration with the New Delhi based Modi Tyres Company Pvt Ltd. The technical cooperation and license agreements between the two groups could see over one million bias tyres being produced for commercial vehicles. The Indian market touted to grow at 7 percent in the coming year, would see a demand of as much as 12 million CV tyres. The new venture targets to get a big share among these mainly bias vehicles. Bias tyres, enjoying 90 percent market share in the country, are expected to see continued preference as radialisation is yet to pick up. Modi and Continental had enjoyed a good run together in India since 1974. That association ended in 2001 when Modi temporarily shut down its production. Continental was instrumental in helping Modi set up its plant from scratch at Modipuram, UP. It has helped Modi all the way from planning to execution and from technology transfer to active support. Continental intends to leverage its high brand equity in India. The revival path, began after Modi reactivated its tire plant two years ago. The production has already started from June 2009 onwards. More than one million ‘Continental’ branded bias tyres are targeted to be sold by them initially. Being one of the largest premium tyre makers in the planet, Continental makes tyres for LCVs heavy trucks, buses and other off-highway vehicles. Added with the Continental brand, the group makes tyres under the Uniroyal, Semperit and Barum brands also. The ‘ContiBreakdownService’ since 1978 has been providing quick-response in case of flat tyres through their network of authorised dealerships. Globally, Continental employs around 1,30,000 workers at 190 locations in 35 different countries. ■

CV monitor / news

news / cv monitor

Kolkata suffers shortage of buses

T Two horse strategy for ALL-Nissan


espite land acquisition not being sorted out as yet, the launch of LCVs from the ALL- Nissan combine has not been hugely delayed. A 1.25-tonne LCV diesel truck, will herald Ashok Leyland’s foray into the promising LCV sector. It will be rolled out from the company’s current Chennai facility in mid-2010. The to-be separately branded range of products from the JV will have a two tonner as a follow-up. The manufacturing venture with Nissan will be executed in two phases. The first facility is up and running, while the second will be on a greenfield site (post land acquisition). Ashok Leyland is trying to up the two shift capacity for the LCV products to 70,000 vehicles annually from the 50,000 currently. Meanwhile, Ashok Leyland will showcase a hybrid bus during the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be staged in Delhi. Deal with Magma Fincorp Ashok Leyland Limited (ALL), has entered into a MOU with Magma Fincorp Ltd (MFL) to 30 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

provide hassle-free finance to customers. The Kolkata-based MFL with its strong foothold over the northern and eastern regions will help the Chennai-based Ashok Leyland strengthen its pan-Indian sales presence. ALL has registered a marginal decline of 0.7 percent in August CV sales, which stand at 4,784 units vis-à-vis 4,819 in 2008. This includes a fall of 1.56 percent in total domestic sales of MHCVs – which are down from 4,227 to 4,161 units correspondingly. The same period saw domestic sales go down 0.1 percent, from 4,233 units to 4,225. Export figures fell more rapidly - by 7.23 percent from 594 units to 551 units this year. ■

he West Bengal government is struggling to bridge the gap between the scrapping of old buses and the arrival of new ones. Based on a Kolkata High Court ruling, the government has scrapped a total of 3,067 pre-1993 buses, since August 1. The new buses for Kolkata under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission have not yet arrived. An alternative plan has been made to provide temporary permits to private bus operators on 31 key routes for 12 weeks. These one-time permits call for buses with a minimum seating capacity of at least 31. Thus far, there are very few takers. Only 26 applications have come so far, while the government expected 500 buses. Under the JNNURM scheme, Bengal would get 1,200 buses. Of these, only 270 will be run by the STUs, 630 will be plied by the private sector. Already 237 applications have been received from private operators. These 900 buses will cost Rs 20 lakh apiece.

Additionally, 300 AC ultra-low floor buses are to be procured. The majority, 240 buses have been budgeted at Rs 56 lakh apiece. The remaining, 60 will be Volvo city buses costing Rs.82 lakh each. Also, in an agreement among the oil companies and the state transport department, 10 new LPG filling stations will come up by December 2009. Currently, the state has 10 such stations. ■ october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 31

CV monitor / news

news / cv monitor

Land acquisition problems delay NHAI projects


he National Highways Authority of India under Road transport minister Kamal Nath is facing many a roadblock on account of land acquisition issues. Nath has set an ambitious target of 20 kilometers of road per day, totaling 7,000 kilometers this year, five times the current figure of 1,400 km laid annually. As of July, the NHAI has only managed to lay 10 kilometers per day, which is just half the set target. The July figure is definitely better than June’s average of 6 km per day. But, there is much to be done yet considering that traffic volumes have been growing by 12 percent a year. The NHAI works with state governments to identify suitable plots of land. The owners are tapped and the prices are negotiated. But, most owners are not that easily accessible and top it, many of them small farmers own less than 1 acre of land. Secondly, most plots of land have unclear land titles, incomplete or absent village revenue records.

Bidders cautious Ideally, the government should have completed 70 to 80 percent of acquisitions before opening the bidding process from the contractors. In reality, this hardly happens. This along with the overall credit crunch is stopping the increasingly risk-averse contractors. There are only 35 to 40 large and medium road developers in the country. Their technical, financial and managerial quotients are indeed very limited. Despite easing the liquidity conditions in the market, there are not enough bidders yet for 38 of 60 road projects awarded as of March 31 2009. Out of the initiated 60 projects, in the March to June 2009 period, only 16 contracts have been awarded till now. This figure of 60 includes the projects from the NHDP phase III too. And, upwards of 150 of the 187 projects already being executed are going slow. The remedies underway To help solve these land acquisition issues, The NHAI plans to set up 150 land acquisition sites in various states.

32 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

This fiscal year, the Government plans to invite bids for 135 road projects, totaling 14,295 kilometers, which is worth a whopping Rs 1,00,000 crore. In a bid to close the deficit, Nath had recently embarked on a road show to attract foreign investment. The business of Indian highway construction, which is fully open for foreign investment, has now found a few takers from South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. Italian Thai Development, one of Thailand’s biggest builders is currently laying roads on the Assam Bengal border, funded by NHAI. This project to have been originally completed in 2008 has been delayed for want of an additional four kilometres of land. To boost the currently poor private participation, the ministry had proposed setting up of a Road Finance Corporation, and the levying of a cess of Re:1 on petrol

and diesel. The finance ministry however, turned down this proposal as it feels the already existing India Infrastructure Finance Corporation is sufficient enough. B.K.Chaturvedi Commission The B.K.Chaturvedi commission was set up by the Prime Minister to work on measures to fast track the awarding of highway projects. The report has sought government support for NHAI in its borrowing programmes by offering sovereign guarantees. To put it simply, by issuing sovereign guarantees, the Government would assume the responsibility in case the NHAI defaults. NHAI has done nothing so far except raising funds through its own bonds and central allocation. This year will see tough days for NHAI as there is a pressing need at awarding the 200 projects, as well as to invest in most projects on strategic areas as Kashmir and the North-East, through cash contracts.

Sources say, the second report of the commission (which is yet to come up) will seek more autonomy for NHAI so far as MCA (Model Concession Agreements) related issues were concerned. Reducing bu-

reaucratic bottlenecks will be increasingly stressed upon to realise the targets. Poor road infrastructure could potentially take off at least 2 percent off the annual GDP growth. ■

CV monitor / news

news / cv monitor

Truck Terminal moves to Navi Mumbai from Wadala


he Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority will move the proposed truck terminal to an alternate site at Navi Mumbai. The currently planned location is

close to Wadala area (where the proposed 531-m iconic tower project would be up soon). If the truck terminal would have come up in Wadala, it would have meant a

large number of trucks entering Mumbai city. Secondly, the land needed for the Rs 4,000 crore tower project would not have left much room for the truck terminal’s expansion. Bus Terminus The Rs 1,400 crore truck terminal will also house a bus terminal. The bus terminal would have parking facilities for 50 buses to be available at any given time, and idle parking for at least 400 buses. The bus terminal would have facilities at par with international transport hubs. Besides ticketing and public address system, it will house cloak rooms, waiting rooms, a budget hotel as well as restaurants, food plazas. ■

NHAI to empanel safety experts


eciding to stop reliance from consultants, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to empanel 12 safety experts. Last month, it invited applications from engineers with 20 years of experience of which at least three should have been on road safety related work. As many as 40 percent of reported road accident deaths happen on national highways. According to a 2007 survey, the number of reported accidents on national highways stands at 1,38,922 in a year, including 40,612 fatalities. For Build, Operate, Transfer (toll) projects in the country, it is mandatory for the concessionaires to appoint safety consultants for their projects under the new Model Concession Agreement (MCA) system. These safety experts, once appointed, will take care of accident site-inspections, safety audits, and prepare road safety strategy/manuals/guidelines to impart training programmes. ■

34 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

BEML forays deeper into the Indonesian mining sector


harat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), the Bangalore based mining and construction equipment maker will invest Rs.215 crore in Indonesia to tap into the strong potential in that country’s coal mining and construction sector. The newly christened PT BEML Indonesia will set up a marketing office, spares depot and a product service center at Balikpapan (East Kalimantan).By getting closer to the markets than before; BEML aims to provide better and speedy services which include warranties of upto 17 years. Currently, BEML, the Rs.3,000 Crore PSU has many Indonesian clients including the enlisted coal giant, PT Bumi Resources. Their product portfolio includes conveyor systems, dump trucks and bulldozers. Japan’s Komatsu dominates the Indonesian heavy equipment market with a whopping 51 percent share. It is followed by Caterpillar with 22 percent, Hitachi with 13 percent and Kobelco with 9 percent market shares respectively. Additionally, a partnership with Sumber Mitra Jaya (SMJ) has been concluded to bid for contracts at Indian mines. Correspondingly, BEML is also exploring possibilities to bid for mining contracts in Indonesia. ■

VECV introduces ‘Skyline Executive’


icher buses division of VE Com- screen. Passenger comfort is enhanced by tomotive Industry Standards Committee. mercial Vehicles has introduced elegantly done interiors with cosy seats The buses would be introduced in a its ‘Executive Range’ of Skyline and spacious hat-racks. phased manner across India. They have buses. The Executive range tarThe noise levels are significantly already been introduced in Tamil Nadu, gets office transport segment, with its con- lower, thanks to secure bus-body fitments Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and temporary styling and aesthetics. The Sky- and engine covers. Crafted with Fiber-Re- Rajasthan. Exports to the right-hand drivline brand has already gained recognition inforced Plastics (FRP), the exteriors are en markets started in June 2009. Left-hand by their yellow-tinted ‘Skyline School’ polish-painted with a high-durability gloss versions for the Middle East and African label. that improves aesthetics considerably. markets would kick off by early Offered as fully built units with BS II Eicher claims that the 2010. ■ / BSPortable III engine options, the buses can seat Skyline Executive is suBottle Chiller Portable Refrigerator from 32 passengers upto 40. Featuring a perior in fuel efficiency For Cars, Vans, SUVs, Chill a personal bottle of wine, juice, beer, water or body 4 feet, the, bedside, Skyline ExecuHomes, Offices, sodawidth at yourofdining table TV couch ,too, to the tune of 10 Studies, Hostels, tive also boasts theinlargest span percent when comoffice table andof even your car ! suspenNursing Homes, Site Office sion design in this segment. While an array pared to the other ‘ofAny Place You Wish ! — Fully portable of features such as power steering, short- fice travel’ buses. The EXCELLENT FEATURES! — Works on 230V AC mains/ 12V DC car battery thru the cigarette lighter socket. — Fully portable- Carry easily between home, work and car handle gear-shift lever, air brakes and high vehicles conform to — Cools /warms from 5 to 45 deg C by a CPU. Maximum cooling — 14 liters total volume- To fit 19 cans/bottles11 x 500 ml or 2 x 1.5 litre head20 rest provide the bus-body design — Runs on 230 V AC mains and 12 V DC car battery degreeseats C below outside comfort temperature. to the driv— Cools to 20 deg C below outside temperature. er, finishing touches comes from an aqua- norms as well as ‘roll— Max bottle diameter 90 mm — Warms to 65 deg C in warm mode with thermostat cutoff finish side-panel over tests’ as laid — Powerdashboard, Consumption 40anto additional 65 Watts — Very low power consumption, 56 W maximum. — No Compressor , no agaswide , maintenance free, noiselesswind— No compressor, no gas, maintenance free, noiseless. bootspace and panoramic down by the AuFor home delivery of a personal piece or for delivery to a friend Call Pragati Plastics at 011-24671402 or Fax 011-26110361 or E- mail to: LOOKING FOR FREELANCE AGENTS IN ALL INDIAN CITIES

CV monitor / news

New NBFCs bid to enter construction equipment finance market


ollowing the exit of big players like, ICICI Bank, GE Capital and Citicorp Finance, new players are rushing to fill the void in construction equipment finance. Shriram Transport Finance, the leader in second hand truck finance is now establishing a wholly owned subsidiary to address the construction equipment space. If things go according to plan, the entity could kickstart operations this month. Even Bajaj Auto Finance is working out plans to enter this bandwagon. It has plans to disburse Rs.1,000 crore in 2010-2011 and Rs. 2,000 crore in the subsequent year. Thanks to the focus on infrastructure creation, all manner of earth moving, construction and material handling equipment are seen to have a bright future.

The market for financing new equipments, which stood at Rs 10,000 – 12,000 crore annually, is expected to cross 15,000 – 20,000 crore this year. In a sign of things to come, this space recorded a 20 percent Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in the last 6 months despite the general downturn. Currently,

Ritchie Bros to invest USD 100 million


anadian industrial auctioneer Ritchie Bros, is finalising plans to invest USD 100 million (Rs 490 Cr) in India. The USD 3 billion company plans to establish 6 permanent construction equipment auction sites in the country over the next 5 years. Having leased a 20 acre site at Shamshabad near Hyderabad, Ritchie targets to garner $ 5 million (Rs.24.5 Cr) from the setup. This should not be hard to achieve, since Hyderabad is the hub of construction activity in India, accounting for 25 percent of equipment sales in the country. By 2011, the company will establish a permanent 80 36 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

acre site which could house about 5,000 equipment at the same site. The USD 20 million would have been achieved by this time. To start with, the company has brought a slew of unreserved construction equipments under the hammer at Hyderabad. Cranes, Hydraulic Excavators, wheel loaders, crawler tractors and dump trucks were auctioned last month. Similar developments could then occur in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore. Ritchie Bros has 80 such permanent auction sites across the globe. The global market for trade of construction, transportation and agriculture equipment stands at an estimated USD 100 billion. Ritchie sees big potential in India, where volumes have grown five-fold from 10,000 units five years ago. The company is targeting at least one percent of the Rs.50,000 crore worth equipments currently plying in India. It is banking on the fact that customers are renewing their fleet every 2 years as against 15 years earlier. ■

around 80 percent of the financing is done by NBFCs as Srei Infrastructure Finance, L&T Finance, Tata Capital and Magma Fincorp. NBFCs fare better than banks in this sector, since much of the business depends on building and nurturing relationships. Much also rides on having a good geographical spread and an acceptance of thin margins. ■ offers BOSS to bus operators


he Bangalore-based online ticketing company, has launched its Bus Operator Software System (BOSS) to support pan Indian bus operators in keep track their inventories to organise their operations. The BOSS software offered under the Software As A Service (SAAS) model is initially targeted to be installed with about 50 bus operators by March 2010.The working will be closely observed until March 2010 and then expanded across the nation. Currently, redBus holds an inventory of over 500 bus operators over 5000 routes across 15 states. It books around 3000 bus tickets everyday. The online bus ticketing business in India is growing tremendously at 33 percent year-on-year basis .The 12,000 crore Indian bus market suffers from a lack of online integration and organised players have miles to go. This is where redBus has found a reason to be.

Kerala Government re-ignites north-south highway project


600 kilometer expressway connecting Kerala’s northern-most Kasargod to the southern-most capital city of Thiruvananthapuram is seriously being studied for its feasibility. The planned 10,000 crore expressway project will have four tolled-lanes and 2 toll-free service roads. However, the proposed width of the road has been reduced to 60 meters from the initially envisaged 100 meters. Land scarcity is cited as a reason for this move. The Public-Private partnership, once approved as feasible, will seek political consensus before it kicks off. ■

Rent-A-Bus option Major international tour operators often end up paying double the usual fares while booking their clients’ tickets due to the unavailability of a credible platform for chartered services. redBus wishes to woo these inbound travelers with its secure chartered bus service segment, Rent-A-Bus which was launched earlier this year. On par with international standards, this service has evoked a good response among tourists from the US, Europe and the Middle East. Inventus Capital Partners has refunded redBus for the second time in July 2009. The funds will enable the company to expand its geographical presence in the North-East, Orissa and Rajasthan as well as to increase its chartered bus offerings. With its major focus clearly on the organized bus sector, redBus may foray into holiday packages or other travel options only over the next two years. ■


daimler buses

daimler buses / preview The Sprinter’s Travel 55 and Travel 65 models will be launched in Euro 5 compliant versions.

Daimler Buses to pull out all stops at Busworld Daimler will showcase 20 of its current arsenal of long distance and city buses at the exhibition


aimler AG is all set for a smashing world premiere of its buses at the upcoming bus and coach show, Busworld in Kortrijk, Belgium. Daimler will showcase 20 of its current arsenal of long distance and city buses from both Mercedes and Setra labels. This includes the successful city coach series Mercedes-Benz Citaro LE Ü, 25,000 units of which are on the roads over the last decade. An array of new product launches and latest innovations are awaited. Daimler Buses claims that high economy over the entire life-cycle has been the clinching factor for the Mercedes-Benz Citaro LE Ü series. Two other products also need an immediate mention. This includes an electrically operated hybrid bus and the recently introduced Citaro Fuel CELL Hybrid.

This Citaro vestibule bus has hybrid technology credentials to build on the Bluetec diesel platform.

38 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

New Launches The Mercedes Tourismo RH range of raised floor buses will be launched at the event. Dubbed by Daimler as an ‘allrounder’, these buses seek to fill the gap

between the current The Travel 65 model can seat 18+1. The luggage space is also Mercedes Benz – Ina comfortable 1.5 cubic metres. tegro (for regular rural trips) and the intercity high-deck buses, Tourismo RHD. The Tourismo RH will come in 12.14 metre and 12.98 meter lengths, carrying 51 and 55 people respectively. Thanks to their raised platforms, they will offer ample luggage space of 6.7 and 7.9 cubic meters respectively. This makes The Tourismo RH comes with factorythem fit for both city-runs and long trips fitted Inter Star Eco fully-upholstered tourwith equal ease. ist coach seats. Adjustable backrests, latThis range has at its heart, the 12,000cc eral adjustments, integral grab handles and in-line six-cylinder OM 457 HP LA engine folding armrests along the aisle are added series. There are two available output vari- features. Safety aspects include the Elecants: the 260 kW (354 hp) offering and a tronic Braking System (EBS), disc brakes more powerful 300 kW (408 hp) engine on all wheels, anti-lock braking system to handle demanding topographical condi- (ABS), acceleration skid control system tions. Both feature the Euro 5 compliant (ASR), Brake Assist (BA), cruise control, BlueTec diesel technology, offering the retarder, Continuous Braking Limiter and highest fuel efficiency in its class. the Electronic Stability Program (ESP). october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 39

preview / daimler buses

The Citaro Fuel Cell hybrid is clearly one to watch out for.

Sprinter Travel mini buses These mini buses feature a new drive system that Daimler claims, would offer better fuel economy and comfort. The efficiency comes from their powerful Euro 5 compliant OM 651 (120 kW/163 hp) and OM 642 (140 kW/190 hp) engines on the Sprinter Travel 55 and 65 models respectively. These ECO Gear transmission engines also comply with Europe’s most stringent EEV standard (Enhanced Environmentally friendly Vehicle) which is currently voluntary though. Capacitywise, the Travel 65 model seats a n

enhanced number of 18+1 passengers as it has an extra rear seat bench. While adaptive brake lights and heated wide-angle rear-view mirrors offer added safety touches, the luggage space is an impressive 1.5 cubic metres. Outward swinging doors feature for the first time in both models. Two Setra launches Daimler’s Setra brand will see new launches in the ComfortClass 400 buses and the new raised-floor versions of the MultiClass 400 series. Setra’s S 415 H and S 416 H versions of Mul-

tiClass 400 series will come in 12 and 13 meter length dual axle variants. The raisedfloor bus is about 1,040 mm over the road offering ample 7.9 cubic meters of storage space. The S 416 H can hold 56 passengers. The vehicle is powered by a 260 kW (354 hp) OM 457 hLA in-line BlueTec diesel engine with a six-speed manual transmission (GO 190) and retarder. These are touted to be dual-income earners for the transporter, as they can run efficient city trips on weekdays and turn into an inter-city tourister on the weekends. Setra boasts of as many as 35 innovations in the new ComfortClass 400 offering. To list some, there are safety equipments in the form of the Front Collision Guard (FCG), LED lights, a rear entrance camera, a trailing axle with independent wheel sus¬pension, rain/light sensor, new cornering light functions and more. The driver’s workplace features a new multifunction steering wheel with inte¬grated button-operated functions. The material options available in steering wheels are carbon fibre, bird’s-eye maple wood and burr walnut wood (a special leather-covered version). The instrument panel with new control arrangement is available in wood or carbon styling. This new 3-D look cluster is adapted from the TopClass 400.The cluster has a colour display to show the status of individual vehicle flaps as indicated by sensors. An integrated trip computer with fuel consumption display completes the picture. The fresh-

The Tourismo RH will bridge the gap between the Integro and the Tourismo RHD.

40 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

preview / daimler buses The Setra S 415 H can do city trips during the week and inter-city tourister assignments during the weekends.

ened-up look of the vehicle’s front end with the new corner/side panels will do much to position the bus as a new generation offering of the ComfortClass 400.

get secure access of their specific data and their analyses via the Internet. The cost of BusFleet depends upon additional onboard computer installation, the usage of telematics services and the available data transmission services. The graduated service card concept is also new. The ServiceCard Premium

BusFleet and OmniPlus Service Cards Daimler Buses offers various value added services to both Mercedes Benz and Setra brands under the ‘OmniPlus’ label. OmniPlus will introduce two new systems in Kortrijk. First among them is ‘BusFleet’ from Daimler - a fleet management system. The primary focus is on efficiency and safety. The system does documentation and analysis of operating data and tachograph data, The OmniPlus ServiceCard driving style documentation, and Premium up-to-the-minute location and route offers access to workshops and tracking. a toll-free 24 BusFleet is not exclusive to hour phone line. Mercedes-Benz and Setra alone. In fact, all major European bus and coach is now being promoted with more added manufacturers use this FMS interface as services to the currently offered basic Omstandard. Data to be transmitted is tempo- niPlus ServiceCard. While the basic card rarily stored in an additional onboard com- allows users to take care of fuel services puter, which is transmitted via GPRS to a or toll, tunnel and ferry services, the upcentral server. Registered BusFleet users graded one offers additional services such 42 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

as workshop and toll-free 24 hour phone service in the customer’s local language. Daimler’s international database located in the OmniPlus BusPool can help customers get a substitute bus driver or even a substitute bus. In the event of flat tyres rapid assistance can be called from the OmniPlus TireService. Supplementing all this is a mobility package which ensures that customers are billed accurately for the mobility breakdown services. OmniPlus, with more than 600 service outlets all over Europe has the largest bus and coach-specific service network. This service brand from Daimler caters to all bus-related requirements, including maintenance and repairs, efficient driver and service training; an available used vehicles inventory, as well as convenient financial services. The Spare Parts and Logistics Centre in Neu-Ulm, stocks more than 1,00,000 genuine parts from complete engines to the smallest screws. Further, availability of bus parts for any model is ensured for as long as 15 years after its production stops. ■

Different strategy

Bajaj Auto

Bajaj Auto / Different Strategy

fuel-efficient to the extent of 20 percent as claimed by Bajaj Auto. Among other features, the 6.85 HP RE600 boasts of the lowest turning radius for high maneuverability even on narrow roads, twin front suspensions for riding comfort, and wet multi plate clutch that has a life of 15,000 kms. Starting with a phased launch in September, Bajaj Auto intends to sell 1,000 RE600s every month.

Bajaj Auto claims that the GDI threewheeler is 33 percent more fuel-efficient than regular RE three-wheelers.

Specifications Bajaj RE 600 Engine Type

4 stroke, forced Air cooled






18.17 Nm@2200rmp


Wet multiple plate Hand Clutch Suspension


Helical coil compression spring

Shock Absorber

Hydraulic Double acting Brakes

Rajiv Bajaj and R.C. Maheshwari chose to go for a 600 kg payload three-wheeler as opposed to a 500 kg payload four-wheeler.

Bajaj launches RE600 In sharp contrast to its competitors, Bajaj is going slow on four-wheelers but aiming for the three-wheeler market. The new products are a result of careful segmentation of the urban cargo transport landscape. Story Ram Kumar Ramaswamy


ajaj Auto – the world’s largest manufacturer of threewheelers, has announced the launch of the ‘RE600’ cargo three-wheeler. The 600 kg payload vehicle is priced at Rs 1,03,686 ex-showroom Pune – or 20 percent lower 44 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

than comparative products in the market. Both the pricing and payload are designed to create a new segment. ‘Our studies show that only 46 percent of customers use payloads in excess of 600 kilograms. And, even in the case of those that do, the requirement is only in 15 percent of cases,’

says RC Maheshwari, CEO, Commercial Vehicles, Bajaj Auto Limited. While competing three-wheelers in the 0.5 tonne range are engineered to take on overloading upto 1 tonne, the RE600 has been strictly constructed with the 600 Kg payload in mind. Therefore, it is more

Service brake (Brief Description)

Single control, right foot operated hydraulic brakes with TMC

Front & Rear


Parking brake

Mechanical Hand Lever operated

Electrical System 12 V, DC, Battery 12 V 32 A.h. Fuel Tank capacity Diesel

8.0 ltrs Dimensions

Overall Dimensions LxBxH

2710mm x 1320mm X 1700mm


2000 mm

Rear Track

1150 mm

Minimum Ground Clearance

180 mm

Load body platform NA Area L x B x H Gross Vehicle Weight 800kg Tyre (front & Rear) pneumatic, 4.00- 8, 4PR or 6 PR

This number will soon climb to 2,500 units per month. Bajaj has put out 36 lakh three-wheelers under the RE brand so far and indeed 95 percent of three-wheeler sales are notched up under this marquee. More numbers were added in the first five months of this fiscal. ‘We have grown 24 percent as against a market growth of just 12 percent,’ adds Maheshwari. The chief reason for this trend is the easy availability of finance in the market. Just as important is a fine-tuning of Bajaj’s product strategy. The company has decided to offer a complete range of petrol, diesel, CNG and LPG offerings on its RE 2-stroke and 4stroke three-wheelers. The GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) three-wheeler launched last year has also met with decent success. The product, claimed by Bajaj to be 33 percent more fuel-efficient than regular RE three-wheelers now clocks volumes of 1,000 units a month. A couple of upgrades have been planned on the RE platform. ‘During this fiscal, we will launch an upgraded version of the RE petrol with an electric start. Also, the RE diesel will be made available in another avatar to cater to rural markets,’ reveals Maheshwari. Sometime in the future, there are indications that three-wheeler engines may also get Bajaj’s famed DTSi (twin spark) technology.There are indications

that the slow moving three-wheelers on the Mega and GC platform may be phased out in favour of new products developed on the RE platform. Exports have also contributed to the strong increase in three-wheeler sales. In sharp contrast to the lows seen last year, Bajaj expects to see average export volumes for two and three wheelers to be at 80,000 units per month. ‘This figure gives us revenues of Rs 3,500 crore and margins in high double digits. Within this figure, we export 15,000 three-wheelers or half our entire production to 17 countries across the globe,’ explains, Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto. The company which saw a record operating profit of Rs 455 crore, in the first quarter, expects the rest of this year to be even better on the back of increased do-

A Bajaj RE Diesel three-wheeler.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 45

Different Strategy / Bajaj Auto

mestic and export demand. Bajaj projects to close this year with sales of 1,60,0001,70,000 units this fiscal. Therefore, the three-wheeler capacity at Aurangabad is being expanded from the current levels of 25,000-30,000 units per month to 35,000 units per month. The distribution channel, consisting of 160 dealers and 475 touch points has also been suitably beefed up. Four-wheeler strategy ‘Bajaj Auto is still about 12-18 months away from the launch of its four-wheeled commercial vehicles. The project is still on the drawing board and we have made no investments as yet in toolings and fixtures,’ says Rajiv Bajaj. Though there is no statement on record, it is commonly believed that Bajaj’s partner in the venture, Renault is going slow with its investment plans in the wake of the slowdown. As yet, there is no clarity as to whether the engines and aggregates will be developed by Bajaj exclusively or in sync with Renault. This waiting period has given Bajaj ample scope to think its strategy in this space. ‘When we get into cargo four-wheelers, we will not look to offer a me-too product that will compel us to compete on price. The idea is to move up from up our RE three-wheeler platform rather than come down from a truck platform. Using our approach, we can develop products at half the price and at much better fuel-efficiency,’ states Rajiv Bajaj. In other words this means a fourwheeler that will not be over- engineered to take on

A RE 2-stroke three-wheeler. The market is gradually moving towards 4-stroke products.

46 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

A 4-stroke CNG three-wheeler as seen in Delhi.

extensive overloads or make long distance inter-city journeys. ‘Any customer who uses a 4wheeler surely gains in prestige. But does he make more money? No. In the current crop of small four wheelers, inter-city journeys are on an average made only twice a week and that is the only time the operator makes a profit. We will therefore focus on the other five days of the week,’ adds Maheshwari. The same reasoning explains why Bajaj has gone in for the RE600, when most of its competitors like Tata Motors, Piaggio and Mahindra are looking at 0.5 tonne four wheelers. ‘If we wanted to do the 0.5 tonner, we could have done it a long time ago. But the fact is that such a product is likely to cost Rs 1.75-2 lakh and this would make it very tough, for customers to make money,’ states Maheshwari. In sum, the small commercial vehicle market is hugely undersold, when in contrast, there are 250 applications in Europe

for last mile distribution. Every 16 tonne truck must encompass a population of 32 three-wheelers, but that is far from happening in India. ‘We have a population of 36 million three-wheelers on the road. Now, assuming a life span of 10 years, each year, we should see replacement of 3.6 lakh three-wheelers. But that does not happen, since customers stick to old vehicles. Therefore, we will need to segment the market effectively to drive replacement demand,’ says Maheshwari. Typically, as cities grow, logistics hubs move out. Such hubs have to be connected with distributors who in turn offer products to retail and further to the end customers. It is in the final 2-3 stages (where distance demands are not high) that Bajaj’s new four wheelers and three-wheelers will operate efficiently,’ concludes Maheshwari. ■

With sales of the GC 1000 dropping, Bajaj may considering developing a similar product on the RE platform.

step ahead


Mercedes-Benz / step ahead

Mercedes Benz launches Actros 4841K The BS III compliant tipper comes with some deft improvements over its previous avatar.


Story Ram Kumar Ramaswamy Photography Kiran Bajad

seems to be an important number for Mercedes Benz India. It has launched the third generation (MP3) and BS III compliant version of the Actros tipper – the 4841K. Capable of putting out robust power of 408 HP @ 1800 rpm and

2,000 Nm torque at 1080 rpm, the truck’s V6 engine represents an improvement over the 394 HP BS II variant. The tipper also has a host of interesting value additions (See ‘More bang for the buck’). But, at approximately Rs 65 lakh, the price of the new Actros is not significantly higher than that of the previous variant. The first order for 100 trucks is al-

Dr. Wilfried Aulbur says that despite the slowdown, sales of this year are likely to be at par with last year.

48 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

ready at hand. ‘We have signed a deal with Kolkotta-based Saumya Mining to deliver 100 trucks to cater to their coal and uranium mining operations. Saumya is the only company permitted to mine for uranium,’ says Dr. Wilfried Aulbur, MD and CEO, Mercedes Benz India (MBI). The company now has 18 customers for the Actros, with Hyderabad-based mine contractor BGR alone owning 150 trucks. As of now, MBI boasts of a population of 580 Actros tippers in India. To add to the core market at the mines, MBI has also secured an order for 6 trucks to be configured as water bowsers for Mumbai’s Fire Services. Some 100 special application vehicles on platforms like the Unimog and the Atego have also been imported by MBI as CBUs into India. The result is that the CV business has turned positive for the company in just three years. Indications are that the business will do well this year despite the slowdown. ‘We sold 240 trucks last year to claim a 20-25 percent share in the premium segment. And despite a slight fall in overall market numbers, we may match last year’s performance. The mining sector has largely held its own,’ adds Dr. Aulbur. MBI has set up a capacity of 1,200 october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 49

step ahead / Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz / step ahead

The tipper is characterised by body that is heated by emissions. This prevents cargo from sticking onto the floor.

Specifications Actros 4841K Axle Configuration

8x4 / 4




31000 kg (Limits as per CMVR) 48000 kg (Technical) << Engine >>


“V” type six cylinder with direct injection diesel engine

Engine Displacement

11.95 litres

Engine HP

300 kW (408 HP) @ 1800 rpm


2000 Nm @ 1080 rpm

Emission Compliance

Bharat Stage III (EURO 3)


Diaphragm type, single plate electropneumatic actuator controlled assisted clutch

Plate Dia



All synchromesh overdrive 16 speed gearbox operated by Telligent® Automated Gearshift

No. of Gears

16 forward + 2 reverse gears

Rear Axle Type

Planetary axle with hydraulic shock absorbers and wheel differential lock

Rear Axle Ratio

5.849 :1

Front Axle

Rigid stub axle with parabolic springs, hydraulic shock absorber and stabiliser


Parabolic type leaf spring with 2 hydraulic shock absorbers


Inverted parabolic type leaf spring with 2 hydraulic shock absorbers

<< Clutch >>

<< Gear Box >>

<< Axles >>

<< Suspension >>

<< Brakes & Steering >> Brakes

Electro pneumatically actuated drum brakes with S cam brakes Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) Acceleration Skid Reduction (ASR) Hill hold feature (Roll back prevention)


Re-circulating ball type steering with hydraulic power assistance provided by dual pump << Tyres, Fuel tank, Cabin & Electricals >>

Tyre Size

12 x 24 crossply

Fuel Tank Capacity

300 litres


24 V, 165 Ah, 80A

Cabin Type

Full forward all steel AC cabin

Body Capacity

18.7 cu.m. rock body 18.7 cu.m. heated body (Optional) 23.0 cu.m. coal body (Optional) Selection of body capacity is based on the density of material

50 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

trucks and buses (single shift) per year at its new Chakan plant. To cater to the trucks operating in 25 sites across 7 states, MBI has enlisted 100 service personnel, as well as 8 CVASS partners. Around 2,000 drivers have also been trained to help customers. This level of service is extremely important, considering that the Actros lifts 1,500 tonnes, while working 22 hours a day. More bang for the buck The Actros 4841K has a three-millimetrethick, pressure-tight guard plate for the radiator and engine. At the rear end, an alternator protection guard offers protection against mud and slush. The tipper body has

A 3 mm thick guard plate protects both the engine and the radiator

a heated floor (upto 67 degree Celsius) to prevent cargo from sticking onto it. This reduces dead weight and fuel consumption, while increasing legal payload. The heating is accomplished through exhaust emissions that are channelled via a complex maze of plumbing under the tipper’s floor. There are also a few other deft touches in the form of a modified cab step that is mounted on rubber bearings. This reduces repair costs as partial repairs become possible, even as corrosion is taken care of. The Actros already comes with the Telligent Engine Management System that provides overload protection, while lowering fuel consumption and improving

The cabin comes with enough creature comforts to embarrass a car.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 51

step ahead / Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes Benz is considering bringing in the SLT tractor into India. The 609 HP truck can haul upto 240 tonnes of cargo.

engine monitoring. Further, the Telligent Maintenance System monitors the condition of oils, filters, coolants and brake linings. Also, the automatic gear shift offers 16 F+ 2 R options. The Telligent Brake System enhances traffic safety with up to 20 percent shorter stopping distances. Besides this, the Actros is the only tipper in India to come with an automatised clutch system. The 430 mm dia, drag type clutch is assisted by Hydro-Pneumatic Pressure Boosters. The life of the clutch is boosted to 1,80,000 kms as against an average of 1, 00,000 kms. It is claimed by MBI that the Actros is the only tipper in India to come with inverted parabolic sus-

pensions on the rear. Further, the all steel cabin comes with a hatch-roof, power windows, electric and heated mirror. MBI also states that thus far, there have been no chassis structural failures on any of its trucks sold in India. The initial trucks have already clocked 16,000 hours and run for 2,75,000 kms. New products The Actros MP3 was voted ‘Truck of the Year’ at the 2008 Hannover CV show. Impressively, over 6,00,000 Actros trucks have been sold since 1998. During that period, the truck has earned the distinction of being featured in the Guinness Book

of Records as the ‘World’s most fuel-efficient truck’. Looking at the larger picture, Asia is very important for Mercedes Benz, since 42 percent of its 4,72,074 units in 2008 sales came from that market. Much of the action happens in Indonesia’s coal mines. Besides the tipper version, the market also demands the Mercedes Benz Actros SLT tractor. Powered by a 609 HP engine, the 8x6/4 tractor can haul upto 240 tonnes at one go. MBI is looking at this tractor for India too. ‘We are looking at launching this product for niche applications in India within a couple of years. But, it will not come cheap, considering that even the special trailer body will have to be imported from Germany,’ informs Dr. Aulbur. He does rule out any other product at the lower end of the scale for India. ‘We will not be price competitive in the 6x2 or 8x2 segment.’ But, such vehicles, as also LCVs will be seen from Daimler Trucks’ Chennai plant. Currently, going solo, the Indian arm, targets the creation of a platform for ‘middle of the road’ trucks. ‘It makes sense to come out with a new platform. Localising a European or Japanese concept is not the right way to go for India,’ clarifies Dr. Aulbur. In so far as buses are concerned, MBI will begin evaluating prototypes of a three-axle intercity bus as also a low floor city bus by early next year. While the latter will be a completely new platform, the former will be largely based on the twoaxle coach. ‘We will be faster in getting into multiaxle coaches and city buses, than we were in introducing the two-axle coach,’ quips Dr. Aulbur. ■

The Chakan plant can assemble 1,200 trucks and buses on a single-shift basis every year.

Note the vertical exhaust and the radial tyres.

52 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

new frontiers

prasanna group



Prasanna Group forays into city bus operations If things go according to plan, Prasanna’s services could turn out to be just the benchmark for other bus fleet operators to target the massive city bus services market. Story Ahfaaz Khan and Kiran Bajad


n 15 August 2009, Prasanna Group, one of the more prominent names among intercity bus service operators, has entered the city bus market with a foray in Jalgaon. The operations began with 20 medium-sized buses (32 seaters) with another 10 big buses (44 seaters) hitting the roads a month later. Come Diwali and Jalgaon will see the introduction of four Volvo city buses as well. The overall plan is to introduce 60 buses in the city by the middle of next year. According to Prasanna Patwardhan, MD, Prasanna Group, ‘depending upon the initial 3-4 months of operations, we will decide on an optimal mix of seating capacities for the other 26 buses that will be acquired by mid -2010.’ Currently the city bus service in Jalgaon is operated by the 54 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) with a fleet of 15 buses. Over the next 3-4 months, Prasanna Group will take over the entire operations, making it the only city bus service provider in Jalgaon. But the fleet operator - which has bagged rights to operate this service for ten years - is not about to stop at 60 buses. It expects to increase fleet size to 100 buses over the next two years. ‘Jalgaon has a population of 4.5 lakh. We may assume 40 percent or 1, 80,000 of these residents to be mobile every day. Out of this figure, even if 25 percent were to use public transport, we are looking at a daily load of 45,000 passengers. Now considering an average of 700-800 passengers per day per bus, 60 buses should be enough for the time-being. But once people develop confidence in our services, I expect a greater number of

people to start using city buses. This will necessarily entail an addition to our fleet,’ continues Patwardhan. Apart from Jalgaon, the Prasanna Group has made bids for similar projects in cities like Nanded and Ahmednagar. If successful, the company expects to launch its city bus services in these two cities by early next year. Request for Quotation (RFQs) have also been made in couple of cities in Gujarat, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Indore. In fact, the company has recently acquired Indore-based Rama Jyoti Travel, which had been operating a fleet of 30 buses in the city. ‘Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the central government has decided to invest in city bus projects under the public private partnership (PPP) model. So, we expect to roll out our services in at least 10 cities over the next 3 years.’ believes Patwardhan.

The buses Prasanna currently sources chassis from Ashok Leyland and gets the bodies built by a local bodybuilder. For a mediumsized bus, the group is shelling out Rs 12 lakh, whereas for the larger variant and the Volvo city bus, the investments are at Rs 24 and Rs 81 lakh respectively. Termed ‘Ecobus’, the buses operating in Jalgaon are BS-III complaint diesels. In cities where CNG fuel is or will soon be available, the priority will be given to CNG buses. All the buses will have bucket seats for extra passenger comfort. The buses will also be equipped with GPS and GPRS devices, LCD screens with electronic displays and RFID card readers. A central control room will be set up to operate GPS and GPRS enabled services. ‘For the first three months, the company which is supplying us this system will operate the

Prasanna Patwardhan expects to bag tenders for operating city bus in 2-3 other cities by early next year.

control room. At the end of this period, we will decide whether to continue with them

or operate the control room on our own,’ says Patwardhan. october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 55

new frontiers / prasanna group The agreement with JMTU allows Prasanna Group to operate city bus services in Jalgaon for a period of ten years.

Apart from the control room, the Prasanna group will also set up 2-3 depots and bus stops in the city. The bus stops will be in two different lengths - 20 metres and 8 metres. Around 25 units of each dimension will be installed at various places in the city. In addition to these bus stops, 100 umbrella shaped boarding points will also come up in the city. ‘We will make sure that there is either a bus stop or a boarding point at intervals of 500 metres’ informs Patwardhan. As per the agreement signed with the Jalgaon Municipal Transport Undertaking (JMTU), the land for constructing this entire infrastructure will be provided by the transport corporation. For infrastructure development, the group will invest close to Rs 15 crore. To take care of the funding, the group has joined hands with a private

equity firm. The formal announcement of this alliance is expected soon. Out of the budgeted investment, Rs 1.5 crore will be spent on setting up the control room while around Rs 2 crore will go to the bus stops. The bigger bus stop will cost Rs 5-6 lakh apiece, while the smaller ones will come at a price of Rs 2.5 lakh. The umbrella shaped boarding points will cost Rs 50,000 each. The remaining amount will be spent on setting up the depots and acquiring buses. Understanding the operations The group has divided the city into 15 different corridors, each classified as being high, medium and low frequency ones. On the high frequency corridors, buses will run every 5 minutes while on the low to medium frequency corridors, the availability of a bus will range between 10 to 15

The new buses wil have bucket seats for extra passenger comfort.

56 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

FLEET TRAC minutes. However, between 8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 6 pm the buses will run every five minutes on all corridors. ‘MSRTC used to operate its services at intervals of 30-40 minutes. So our services should definitely make life a lot easier for customers,’ informs Patwardhan. Prasanna will have exclusive rights to revenue collection from the bus operations. Of this sum, JMTU will be paid a royalty of Re 0.85 per km. The fare for the regular buses will vary between Rs 3 -16. For Volvo buses the fares will be 2-2.5 times that of the regular buses. Except for the Volvo buses, Patwardhan is confident of a payback period of three years. ‘One needs to clock revenues of Rs 3,500 and Rs 7,000 per day per bus to recover the investments on the 32 and 44 seaters respectively in three years. I am confident that we will achieve this figure on a daily basis,’ explains Patwardhan. With respect to the Volvo buses, Patwardhan sees payback as being beyond monetary calculations. ‘We may not make any money on the Volvo Buses for 3-4 years. But their introduction will impart a distinct identity to our overall operations. If as expected the buses build passenger confidence, occupancy on all our buses will rise. An occupancy level of at least 70 percent is essential for sustenance of our operations,’ analyses Patwardhan. Eye on the bottom line There are other means to boost occupancy too. Passes with a provision to generate high mileage awards or redeemable points will be issued to students and senior citizens among other categories of passenMSRTC’s existing fleet of city buses will be gradually phased out from Jalgaon.

new frontiers / prasanna group


Close to 25 bus stops, each of 20 m length will be installed in the city. The Prasanna Group will undertake some co-branded activities with retail outlets (pic 1) in Jalgaon. A dedicated control room (pic 2) will be set up to offer pasenger information services.


gers. People enrolling for the annual card membership will be informed about the location of buses on their mobile phones. The Prasanna Group is also in talks with retail ventures like Big Bazaar and Café Coffee Day (CCD) for various co-branding activities. ‘We are working on solutions which will enable a customer buying my pass to get a coffee free in CCD or someone shopping in a Big Bazaar outlet to travel free in our buses for a day,’ remarks Patwardhan. RFID card readers will be installed in the bus as well as in partner outlets. Prasanna is also planning to install ATMs in its bigger bus stops. ‘ATMs are manned by a watchman round the clock so this will also ensure safety of the cash as well as of commercial displays that may be put up at the bus stops,’ says Patwardhan. Prasanna is looking at advertisements on bus stops as well as outside and inside 58 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009


in Pune, the Prasanna Group has a fleet of 110 buses including 17 Volvo coaches and 5 King Longs. It operates primarily in Maharashtra and adjoining states of Goa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. According to Prasanna Patwardhan, ‘the intercity bus segment is performing badly and unless government takes some serious action, the situation will get from bad to worse. Our rates are not in line with the hike in fuel charges. Previously the payback period for even Volvo buses was three years, but now even a five year payback is tough’. Patwardhan points to the fragmented state of the intercity bus segment as being responsible for poor realisations. ‘Today a single bus operator can operate on a route where one sees operators with fleets of more than 100 buses. Naturally the single bus operator with fewer overheads charges lower fares and this force the bigger players to match them too. This is a drainer on our margins.’ he continues. ■


buses as alternate revenue options. ‘We expect to derive at least 10 percent of our revenues from commercials. ‘We are talking to advertising agencies and exploring revenue possibilities,’ believes Patwardhan. Apart from increasing revenue streams, the fleet operator is according considerable emphasis to reducing the overall cost of operation. With the help of GPS, the company expects to monitor the driving habits of drivers, the consequent effect on fuel consumption and the recommended corrective measures. Apart from this, the group also expects the GPS system to enable it to precisely understand passenger load at various points. This will help in the efficient planning of bus schedules. Fortune lies at the bottom of the pyramid. And as Prasanna may demonstrate, tier II cities may prove as attractive as the more fancied metroes to bus makers. ■

New Launches

Tata Motors

tata motors / new launches

Awesome T threesome from Tata Motors Small is beautiful. More, so, when the company can build on such established platforms as the Ace and the 407. Story and Photography Kiran Bajad

ata Motors has made clear, its intention to consolidate its strong position in the LCV mart. It has unveiled three vehicles - the new 407 Pickup, the Super Ace - the one-tonne payload variant of the Ace and the Ace Ex, a souped up 750 kg payload offering. Commenting on the launches, Ravi Pisharody, president, Tata Motors Commercial Vehicle Business Unit says, ‘It has always been our commitment to continually refresh our product portfolio, with both, new products and improvements on proven platforms.’ Tata Motors, which pioneered the mini-truck revolution in 2005, sells 9,000-10,000 units of the Ace every month. But even this figure is short of the 13,000-15,000 units that the company mustered during pre-slowdown times. But, things are coming back on track. In August for instance, the company’s LCV sales jumped 42 percent to touch 18,644 units. The new launches can only improve upon this happy scenario. ‘The introduction of these new variants along with an improvePowered by a 70 hp four cylinder engine, the Super Ace is almost four and a half times more powerful than its popular sibling.

ment in the market should help improve the Ace’s sales by 15-20 percent,’ remarks Pisharody. Impressive features The Super Ace is clearly meant for customers looking at superior gradeability and shorter lead times. For starters, it is powered by the Indica’s 70HP, four cylinder, 475 IDI turbo Intercooled diesel engine, with the power being regulated by a five

speed gear box. Hence, the product can achieve a gradeability of 39 percent vis-àvis its younger sibling’s 16 percent. The former’s maximum speed of 125 kmph also weighs in favourably against 64 kmph for the latter. The vehicle is also about 500mm longer than the Ace. It has a drop side body with a length of 8 ft 7 inches for accommodating heavy loads. The cabin also deserves special mention. A considerable empha-

sis has been accorded to driver safety and functionality. Features like power steering, bucket seats, sun visor and optional air conditioning system take care of the former, while a mobile charger and a digital clock account for the latter. The Super Ace will be available at an ex-showroom (Mumbai) price of Rs 3.5 lakh starting this month. The vehicle will be offered with a warranty of 12 months or 50,000 km. According to sources close to Tata Motors, the Sleek interiors coupled with features like power steering and bucket seats makes for a comfortable drive.

The Super Ace’s drop side body enables smooth loading and unloading of cargo.

60 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 61

new launches / Tata Motors

company will also come out with fully built solutions like garbage and construction tippers, tankers, dumper placers and flight kitchens on the Super Ace. It is also not inconceivable to imagine this minitruck heading out of India. Already, speculation is rife that it may be locally put together in markets like Thailand, Argentina, South Africa Ravi Pisharody expects the new launches to boost the Tata Ace’s sales by 15-20 percent. and even Russia. Tata Motors does not believe in half measures for the Indian market either. In the form of Ace EX, the company has tried to provide more options to customers who favour the traditional offering. ‘The Ace EX with its 5-speed gear box will find favour amongst customers who emphasise on shorter lead times and therefore require higher speeds,’ says Anil Kapur, head- sales and marketing, LCVs and SCVs, Tata Motors. Moreover, the EX comes with a 13” tyre (12” for the regular Ace) for imparting better ground clearance. ‘Customers told us that they need higher ground clearance while making off-road trips,’ says R. Ramakrishnan, Head Sales and Marketing, CVBU Tata Motors. The Ace EX also features a unique electronic stop and start arrangement working in combination with auto ignition and clutch start. When the vehicle is stationary beyond six seconds, the engine goes into idle mode and

With features like a 5-speed gearbox and improved ground clearance, the Tata Ex can easily deliver faster speeds and negotiating off-road terrain.

62 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

tata motors / new launches

Specifications Super Ace Engine Model

Ace Ex



4 Cylinder, 475 IDI Turbo Intercooled Diesel

4-stroke, naturally aspirated, indirect injection diesel engine

Max Engine Output

70 hp at 4500 rpm

16 hp @ 3200 rpm


1405 cc

700 cc


Single Plat Dry Friction diaphragm Type

Single plate dry friction diaphragm type


GBS- 65-5/5.07

GBS 65-5/5.27


Synchromesh (5 forward gears), sliding mesh (reverse gear)

Synchromesh (4 forward gears), Sliding mesh (reverse gear)




Power assisted hydraulic, rack and pinion 380 mm diameter ( 25 to 28.1)

Mechanical, variable ratio (20.5 to 24.5), 380 mm dia

Dual circuit vacuum assisted hydraulically actuated

Dual circuit hydraulically activated

Front Brakes



Rear Brakes


Drum brakes (200 mm dia x 30 mm)

Shock absorbers

Hydraulic double acting telescopic type

Hydraulic doubleacting telescopic type both at front and rear

Wheels and tyres

165 R14 LT 8 PR radial tube tyre

155 R 13 LT 8 PR radial

Full tank Capacity

38 litres

30 liters

Max speed


70 kmph

starts again when the clutch is pressed. ‘The electronic stopstart arrangement will help to improve the fuel-efficiency of the Ace EX by approximately 10 percent, vis-à-vis the regular Ace,’ believes Pisharody. Tata Motors will be launching this vehicle this month in seven to eight states at an Ex-showroom price which will be R. Ramakrishnan says that all the three products were Rs 10,000 higher as designed keeping in mind the expectations of a diverse group of customers. compared to that of the regular Ace. With the new 407 pickup, Tata Motors intends to start a new segment altogether. ‘If you look at the LCV segment, there are no products available between the 1.2 and 3.5 tonne range. This puts customers needing a two-tonne payload at a disadvantage. With our new 407 pick up, we are specifically targeting such customers,’ says Rohit Srivastava, head – marketing, mini trucks, Tata Motors. The 407 pick-up comes with an overall length of 4,700 mm (less 600 mm than the SFC 407 truck) and load body length of 2533 mm. This helps the pickup achieve a tighter turning radius of 5.5 m, which the company claims is the shortest in the pick up segment. ‘With the smallest turning radius, the 407 pickup will be able to manoeuvre even those areas which could not be approached with existing pickups,’ Srivastava adds. Available at an ex-showroom price of Rs 4.8 lakh, the pick up comes with an extended service interval of 20,000 km. The vehicle bears a warranty of 3 years or 3 lakh km. Tata Motors officials claim that the pickup will have a life of 7-8 years. Tata Motors will manufacture the new variants of the Ace in Pant Nagar, while the 407 pickup will be manufactured in Pune. The company is


Tata 407 Pickup

Engine Model

Tata 497 SP Turbo BS II

Max Engine Output

55.2 Kw (75 PS) at 2800 rpm

Max Torque

225 Nm (22.9 Mkg) at 1500-1800 rpm


Single Plat Dry Friction Type 240 mm diameter


GBS- 18.5 front +1 Rev, All Synchromesh


Manual variable ratio (25 to 28.1) Recirculating ball type with rack and sector


Vacuum assisted Dual circuit hydraulic with tandem master cylinder

Rear Axle

Single reduction, hypoid gears and fully floating axle shafts

Front Axle

Heavy duty forged beam, reverse elliot type


Semi elliptical leaf spring at font and rear Hydraulic double acting telescopic type at front and rear Anti roll bar at front only

Wheels and tyres

7.0 x 16-12PR (4+1)

Full tank Capacity

60 litres

Performance Max gear speed in top gear with standard axle

102 kmph

Max climbing ability in first gear with standard gearbox and rear axle

25 %

Minimum turning circle diameter

11 m

Dimension Wheel base

2750 mm

Track Front


Track rear


Overall length


Max width


Overall length of the load body


Max gradeability

39 %

21 %

Minimum turning circle diameter

10.2 m

8.6 m










Wheel base

2380 mm


Track Front



Max permissible FAW

2050 kg

Max permissible RAW

2400 kg Cab chassis

cab with load body


4450 kg

Track rear



Loading deck length


2200 mm


Loading deck width


1500 mm

Max permissible in GVW

Height of side panels

300 mm

300 mm

Kerb weight



2500 kg


Loading height from the ground



Max Payload Warranty

3 year/3lac km whichever is earlier


2180 kg

1550 kg

Service interval

20,000 km

Kerb Weight

1180 kg

805 kg


1000 kg

745 kg

Sitting capacity

Driver + 1

Driver + 1

The 407 pickup is intended to fill the gap between the 1.2 and 3.5 tonne segment.

confident of being able to roll out Euro IV versions of all new models by April 2010, when the norms come into effect in 14 cities across India. ■ october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 63

fully loaded


JCB / fully loaded

JCB’s heavies make their mark in Chattisgarh The JS 140 and the 430 Z & 432 ZX are successfully attacking the road construction and mining segments in the state.


Story Ahfaaz Khan

hattisgarh is a construction equipment manufacturer’s dream. It boasts of coal, iron ore, dolomite and bauxite mines and huge road construction activity. The single-lane Raipur-Bilaspur ‘highway’ has among the largest road traffic densities in India. Trucks ferrying coal from sites like Bilaspur pass on this route. The Chattisgarh government is therefore getting into the construction of a four lane highway between the two cities. In this context, not only are JCB’s

64 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

ubiquitous backhoes gaining in prominence, but also heavy line machines like wheeled loaders and excavators. While the loaders (430 Z and 432 ZX) are used to load mineral ore onto trucks and railway wagons, the excavators (JS 140) get into the nitty-gritty of infrastructure creation. First on to the JS 140. It is positioned between the 8-tonne JS 80 and the 20tonne JS 200. The pricing is reflective of this fact. While the JS 80 is priced at Rs 23.5 lakh, the JS 140’s tag at Rs 33 lakh compares favourably with the JS 200’s Rs 42 lakh. The 14-tonne machine is primarily used

for road construction, dumper loading, trenching and excavations for dams and canals. In such assignments, there is not enough width to fit in a 20-tonne excavator, but more digging capacity is needed than that offered by an 8-tonne excavator. Moreover, use of 20-tonners is not justified on smaller rural roads being constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The slower pace of work does not tie-in with the JS 200’s monthly rentals of Rs 2.25 lakh vis-à-vis only Rs 1.5 lakh per month for the JS 140. Also, besides the obvious difference in fuel efficiency, the cost of moving the JS

The JS 140 is primarily used for road construction, dumper loading, trenching and excavations for dams and canals.

140 from site to site is 30-35 percent lower than that for the JS 200. Before the JS 140 came unto the scene, the middle ground in the Chattisgarh market was being catered to by 11 tonne and 13 tonne excavators from competing stables. But, the JS 140 has quickly scored over them. Its fuel consumption may be marginally higher than the smaller machines, but the productivity is significantly more. The JS 140 comes with larger buckets of up to 0.8 cubic metres. ‘With a cycle time of 16 to 17 seconds, the JS140 can fill a 14 cubic metre tipper in 4 minutes or 15 in an hour. Thereby, at least 3 extra tippers can be filled every hour, relative to competition’s machines,’ claims Amarjeet Singh, Proprietor, Amarjeet Singh and Company. The machine with a max operating weight of 13.6 tonne is powered by a 92 HP Cummins engine. Its Japanese hydraulics, inclusive of a hydraulic accumulator makes work cycles faster, reliable and efficient. Also, the strategic positioning of the radiator and the intercooler allows the machine to keep going for quite a while. The JS 140 can operate 22-23 hours at a stretch. Radiators in other machines get

hot after 16 hours, necessitating a break,’ says Gurvinder Singh, Proprietor, Randhawa Transport. The bucket teeth are also durable. The life of the teeth is 500-600 hours while working on soft soil and 200500 hours on hard rock. Further, a ready availability of parts within 3-12 hours of a complaint ensures higher uptime. The JS 140’s unique plexus filters

According to Gurvinder Singh, it is important to match the production capacity of an excavator with that of other road construction equipments on the construction site.

Thoughtful features 430Z The JCB 430Z has a payload of 3.3 tonnes. The machine has world-class aggregates. These include a 130 HP turbocharged Ashok Leyland engine. There are also state-of-the-art ZF Smoothshift Transmission and ZF Multi-trace axles, modular valve block from Walvoil and the single gear pump from David Brown. The transmission clutch packs and the friction plates of the brakes are made from high quality composite material. The oil for electro hydraulic operation of transmission clutch packs flows inside the galleries in transmission housing. This eliminates leakages prone hoses. The brake oil pipes are integrated with the axle housing and are protected against damage from jerks and impacts. The multi-plate oil immersed disc brakes are self-adjusting and protected against corrosive or wet environments. continued on pg. 66

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 65

fully loaded / JCB

jcb / fully loaded

With a cycle time of around 15 seconds, the JS140 can fill a 14 cubic metre tipper in 4 minutes.

offer extended hydraulic oil life upto 5,000 hours. The machine, equipped with a high strength mono boom does not fight shy of power either. It has a high bucket tearout of 7,985 kgf and dipper tearout of 7,404 kgf. There is hardly anything to complain about structurally either. The durable apex design in the X frame under carriage ensures intrinsic fabrication strength. The optional underbelly guards protect hydraulic components, while the sealed and greased lubricant track chain pins and bushes minimise wear and tear. What helps maintenance further is the fact that the engine is easily accessible from top and bottom. Life is comfortable for operators too. They can choose between two work modes- E Economy and P- Productivity. The ram-end cushioning absorbs shocks and reduces fatigue. The cabin is characterised by a large rear storage area for consumable parts and lubricants. The deluxe weight adjustable suspension seat and soft touch hydraulic controls neatly round off the package. But, customers being customers will always demand a bit more. ‘A rock breaker on the JS 140 was needed and that has been recently launched to meet our requirements. The government has restricted the 66 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

use of explosives during blasting operations in light of the Naxal menace,’ opines Gurinder Singh. Loader siblings While the backhoe with its 1.1 cu metre shovel and 1.8 tonne payloads can take on conventional loading jobs, wheeled loaders are called in for specialised jobs. These are mainly deployed to load railway wagons and high body dump trucks with produce from iron, coal, bauxite and dolo-

Amarjeet Singh points out that the slightly higher fuel consumption of the JS140 is compensated by its higher productivity.

continues from pg. 65

continues from pg. 66

The chassis and body components are shot blasted, cleaned, phosphated and individually painted before assembly for life-long protection against rust and corrosion. The stylised cabin roof is moulded and resists damage from overhead obstructions. Ample ground clearance and the high mounting of steering cylinders on the main frame ensures excellent protection. Long life of tyres is ensured through 50:50 articulation wherein the front and rear wheels follow each other in the loading cycle. The microprocessor unit is totally protected against unexpected voltage surges by the voltage regulator. The smooth shift power transmission offers better riding comfort. The ergonomically located single lever hydraulic control ensures ease of use. The electronic gearshift through a twist grip is quick and effective. The electronic display unit on the panel continually guides operators against incorrect operation viz. machine not being operated in correct gears. Each likely problem in the transmission has an error code, which is shown on the display unit. Fault diagnosis is thus instant and can be quickly rectified by service personnel. The transmission housing is splitdesigned and easy to dis-assemble and re-assemble Fuses and relays are located inside the panel with a decal plate, which enable quick identification in the event of a problem. The gas strut assisted bonnet opens easily, and the periodic checks of radiator water level and engine oil can be done without opening the main bonnet. Ground level access to the battery is available. The front-mounted cabin leaves the engine, transmission and electricals open to easy access for repairs. An extensive range of attachments are available, including the dozer blade. The range of buckets includes GP (1.5/1.7/1.9/2.3/2.7 cu m), 6-in-1 clam shovel, high dump buckets and rock bucket (1.5 cu m).

150 hp Cummins engine, the 432 ZX achieves a max torque of 655 Nm@ 1600 rpm. The speed of the 3.6 tonne payload machine is an impressive 39.2 kmph. The four-wheel drive loader has an automatic smooth shift transmission. The electrically operated selector and gear change incorporates a speed inhibitor and modulation for smooth, responsive on the move direction and ratio changes. Four forward and three reverse gears are achieved through a single-stage integral torque converter. Hydraulic power braking is available on all wheels, at an operating pressure of 65 bar. Dual circuits with accumulator backup provide maximum safety under all conditions. Out-board mounted, oil immersed; multi plate disc brakes with organic brake linings combine the benefits of functionality as well as environment friendliness. A single gear pump with a displacement of 88.5 cc/rev is directly mounted on transmission. The main services are servo actuated from a hydraulic remote lever (Joystick) loader control through accumulator backup hydraulic supply unit. The total system pressure is 210 bar. The steering column is adjustable. And, priority steer hydraulic system with priority valve operating at 170-180 bar provides smooth low effort response. Steer rams located high in the chassis offer protection from damage. The machine’s heavy duty three ram geometry (Z bar linkage) provides high breakout forces with excellent loading characteristics. The unitary construction allows easy sealing and prevents ingress of dust. Further, the pin, bush and sealing design on all pivot pins provide extended maintenance intervals. At the cabin, audio/ visual monitoring is possible for engines oil pressure, transmission oil temperature and pressure, engine, coolant temperature and block air filter warning. Also, as compared to the manual control system of the 430 Z, the 432 ZX’s pilot circuit system ensures controls at the push of a button. The shovels are available in 2.1, 2.3, 2.6 and 3.1 cu.m options. A 1.8 cu.m rock bucket is also at the disposal of customers. ■

432 ZX Powered by a 4 stroke direct injection, continued on pg. 67

Arun Chaudhary is satisfied with the JS140 in that it fill the vital gap between an 8 tonne and a 20 tonne excavator.

Mohammed Ussaid Ahmed states that 5 wheel loaders can load an entire railway rake in 5 hours.

mite mines. That is where, the 3.3 tonne payload 430Z wheeled loader and the 3.6 tonne payload 432 ZX wheeled loading shovel come into the picture. The former, priced at Rs26.7 lakh has a loadover height of 3.6 metre. It is fitted with an Ashok Leyland engine and has a fuel consumption of 8 to 10 litres per hour. The latter, drawing a tag of Rs 29 lakh has a loadover height of 3.6 metre with Z-bar loader linkage and a relatively higher fuel consumption of around 11 to 12 litres per hour. Mohammed Ussaid Ahmed of Chat-

tisgarh Earthmovers owns 19 nos. 430 Z machines and 4 nos. 432 ZX machines. ‘Using 5 wheel loaders, we load an entire railway rake in 5 hours. Each rake has about 65 wagons, which in turn can hold 58 tonnes each,’ he explains. While the lower density coal requires 2.7 / 3.1 cum buckets, the heavier iron and bauxite need 1.8 cum buckets. Mohammed charges at the rate of Rs 12, Rs 15 and Rs 8 per tonne for iron, bauxite and coal respectively. The 432 ZX is visibly more productive than the 430 Z. ‘The 432 ZX takes 5

The Z bar linkage in the 432ZX extends its dump height by 1.5 m as compared to that of the 430Z.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 67

fully loaded / jcb

minutes to load a 14 cubic metre tipper; whereas the 430 Z takes 7-8 minutes. This is important, because now the railways, the Chattisgarh government and mine operators are coming out with time-bound contracts. While there is a penalty on late completion, there is incentive on early completion too,’ states R K Khurana, partner, Amit Raj Minerals, which undertakes mining, crushing, and transport related work of various ores and 40mm, 20mm, 10 mm aggregates and fine sand. There are a few suggestions from customers. ‘It would be great if our operators can be trained to tackle breakdowns in remote areas,’ elaborates Ahmed. There are a few customers, who ask for a 5-tonne wheeled loader too,

The 432 ZX is powered by a 150 HP Cummins engine.

c o n s i d e r i n g that growing scale of contracted jobs. It must be remembered that JCB had come out with the 456 model in the recent past. At the foreground When Dynamic Engineers set shop in 1991, it found the going rather slow.

Dynamic Engineers has 7 sales outlets and 2 parts outlets in Chattisgarh.

68 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

‘Chattisgarh was always a labour surplus area. So, we had to accept low sales until 2001. That was when the state was formed and a new wave of infrastructure creation kicked off,’ says Ashwani Mahendru, Proprietor, Dynamic Engineers. Cut to the present and Dynamic Engineers has clocked sales of 623 units, making it the second highest selling dealer for JCB across India. Impressively, out of this number, 113 were heavy line machines. ‘We now have a 65 percent market share in the Chattisgarh wheel loader market and a 35 percent share in excavators,’ claims Mahendru. Dynamic Engineers has seven outlets across the state and two parts outlets in Raipur. While a 5- bay workshop is already operational in the city, come December and a 12- bay workshop will be set up in the mining hub of Bilaspur. Another 5 bay workshop will come up in Raipur by next year. Upon receipt of a com-

Having crossed the 600 units’ mark in sales last year, Mahendru hopes to improve upon his No.2 position in JCB’s fold.

plaint the JCB call centre enlists the services of its 135 service engineers – 23 of whom are dedicated to heavy line machines. And 8 service vans can be pressed into service to attend to a site within 12 hours. Dynamic Engineers provides an AMC under the “JCB Care” programme introduced last year. In this, JCB provides 4,000 hours of warranty, including a oneyear service contract that covers most parts excluding the engine. ‘Providing timely service is not easy. In stocking a mix of fast and slow moving parts, we have to accept a slower turnover of inventory,’ states Mahendru. ■

cementing presence


liugong / cementing presence

LiuGong pulls no punches


iuGong India Private Limited, a subsidiary of the USD 1.6 billion Guangxi LiuGong Machinery Company China is ready to roll its heavy armour in India. In July, the company set up its factory in Pithampur, MP. The 1,77,000 square metre facility will entail investments of USD 30 million by 2012 and employ 200 personnel. The company had signed a MoU with the Madhya Pradesh Trade and Investment Facilitation Corporation in October 2007 and the land was allocated on April 2008. Now, LiuGong is not just proud of the plant being constructed in record time. The big picture is that this facility is the first ever production site outside China for a Chinese construction equipment company. By its final phase, the 20,000 square meter facility will be capable of producing up to 2,000 units of wheel loaders per month as 70 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

This Chinese construction equipment player is not playing the price game in India. It has a collection of high-end products that will eventually be localised.

Director-Sales and Marketing, LiuGong India Pvt. Ltd. What is interesting to note is that LiuGong’s excavators will not come very cheap – they will be priced very close to those from Japanese and Korean makes being sold in India. The company will start with 7-8th generation machines that are tier II emission norms compliant. This is despite the fact that India needs compliance only with Tier I norms. The logic to this move is that there is a huge latent market for higher specification excavators. ‘One third of the 9,000 excavators being sold in India are imported. We thought, it would be best, if we can tap into this segment though a local presence,’ adds Dongchun. These excavators even when put together in India will still have a significant imported content. While the hydraulics and electronics are sourced from Japan and Europe, the engines (tier II engines are generally not made in India) come from the US. The scenario is different for the Wheel Loader. It will be priced 1015 lower vis-à-vis competition in India’s 1,900 units’ market. Its engines are being localised with an Indian manufacturer, while even suspensions and tyres are being worked upon locally. ‘We are in talks with an Indian engine maker to procure engines for the wheel loader. The tyre and the sus-

The LiuGong 906C Excavator

pensions are also being worked upon in line with tough Indian mining conditions,’ states Sapru. However, the transmissions will continue to be imported from China. LiuGong has a JV with ZF to make transmissions for 4, 5, 6 tonne wheel loaders. LiuGong India which targets to sell at least 300 machines this fiscal, will also look at the compactor market for localisation some time in the future. The company has a 14-tonne soil compactor that will be positioned in the premium segment. ‘India has only just migrated to the 11-tonne segment from the 9-tonne segment. And,

indeed, most products in the market are of the 1980s vintage. That is where; we see great potential for a contemporary 14-tonne compactor. With a greater emphasis on timely project completion, contractors are looking at a machine with a greater break down force,’ claims Sapru. What will add to the package is that the compactor comes with a full built AC cabin. Conventionally, most Indian compactors do not even have a cabin. Overall, LiuGong has a portfolio of 10-25 tonne compactors. A 15.5 tonne motor grader further adds to Liugong’s arsenal in the road LiuGong has a 14-tonne soil compactor in its armoury.

Story Sridhar Chari well as excavators, backhoes, compactors and forklifts. LiuGong is the world’s largest manufacturer of (1.5 – 10 tonne) wheel loaders. It has been bringing these machines into India since January 2003. Wheel loaders constitute the vast majority of the 800 construction machines sold by Liugong since then. A small number of excavators, compactors and motor graders have also been imported as CBUs from China Indications are that production will begin with the wheel loaders and gradually

get into the excavators. ‘We will begin with making 1.5 - 8 tonne wheel loaders in India. The excavators will be launched at a time lag of 6-12 months,’ says Li Dongchun, President LiuGong India Pvt. Ltd. Globally, LiuGong has 6-35 tonne excavators in its portfolio. But, the first off the blocks in India will be a couple of machines in the 20-tonne bracket. There will then be room for smaller machines. ‘While the initial machines will be a 20tonner, we are keeping options open for a 6 or 8 tonner too,’ explains Sunil Sapru,

Sunil Sapru and Li Dongchun are keen to correct typical stereotypes about Chinese products.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 71

cementing presence / liugong

construction space. And, a range of 3, 5, 7 tonne forklifts take up material handling duties. Backhoes, skid steers, concrete mixers, concrete pumps and batching plants are on the longer term horizon. For the moment, LiuGong is concentrating on distribution. It has appointed 14 dealers across India. ‘More than saving costs, our objective in coming to India was to be closer to customers. This is so that they can supplied products as soon as they need them and without the waiting period for imports. Being closer to customers will also help to redress the stereotypical perception of Chinese products as being low priced and of poor quality,’ offers Sapru. The China angle In business for more than 50 years, LiuGong has 16 manufacturing plants – all but one are in China – and it produces more than 36,000 machines annually for the domestic and worldwide markets. It employs 500 engineers in its R&D facility. LiuGong offers a full line of machines including wheel loaders, excavators, backhoes, motor graders, rollers, skid steers, and forklifts. Other machines sold inside China include pavers, bulldozers and LiuGong’s largest wheel loader, the CLG899III which is used for mining. The Chinese market is still big, accounting for 1,00,000 wheel loaders and 50,000-60,000 excavators per annum, but it is stagnating. On account of the slowdown, China’s construction equipment market declined by 20 percent in 2008.

The 15.5 tonne motor grader will further add to LiuGong’s muscle in the road construction segment.

This is in contrast to the 15 percent CAGR seen during the period from the late 90s to 2007-08 Li Dongchun offers some perspective on this scenario. ‘The Chinese market demanded big quantities of large construction equipment, when the Chinese infrastructure industry was growing. But, now, with all the infrastructure creation being complete, the new product market in shrinking and new sales are primarily to the replacement market. Like in Europe, compact machinery sells more now. To add

MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan with Chinese dignitaries at LiuGong’s Pithampur plant’s inauguration.

72 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

to this, the Chinese government’s export subsidies are expected to taper off, even as Chinese labour becomes more expensive.’ With India being in the infrastructure building phase, the stage could be set for a Chinese invasion into India’s construction equipment market. For instance, Sany has already set shop in Pune. And reportedly, there are other companies waiting to join in. ‘We want more Chinese companies to come in. It is about time to upgrade the Indian market,’ sums up Dongchun. ■ The company’s 3, 5, 7 tonne forklifts are ready to meet the needs of the material handling segment.

cover story

duck buses

Duck Buses: Amphibious marvels

duck buses / cover story

Buses plunging into water are normally associated with disaster. But there is a noble exception to this rule. Enter the Duck Bus – perfectly comfortable in water or land (see ‘Understanding amphibious buses’). The amphibious buses, originally known as DUKWS, were intended to transport goods and troops over land and water and for approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks during WWII. The buses eventually lost their military utility, but they gained as tourist attractions. Duck Bus tours are popular in many countries such as US, Canada, UK, UAE, Japan, Singapore and China. Approximately 50 units of these 49-seater Duck Buses and considerably more numbers of smaller buses do duty in these countries. The happy news is that some of these buses are arriving in India too. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) and Goa Tourism are planning to roll out amphibious buses in Mumbai and Panaji respectively. In Panaji, full-fledged operations will start by the end of next year

Duck Buses with 49-seat configurations are well suited to meet the needs of tourist destinations like Mumbai.

The dashboard houses all the controls needed to operate the bus on land as well as water.

but trial runs on a couple of routes may kick off as early as the end of this year. Mumbai is faster off the blocks (or into the water). These special buses will start operating in the city within a couple of months. Creative Concepts, a startup that commercialises ideas, has partnered with BEST to roll out these services. As per the agreement between the two parties, Creative Concepts will initially acquire two 49-seater buses at Rs 2 crore apiece from an as yet undisclosed manufacturer in the US. These buses powered by 250 HP Caterpillar marine engines have a top speed of 5 nautical miles (9 km) per hour on water and 65 kmph on land. The bus has a 200 litre fuel tank, and therefore can do 12 hour duties every day. However, fuel-efficiency is hard to predict due to the amphibious nature of operations. The bus is designed in such a way that it remains afloat even if damage to the hull results in water gushing into it.

Specifications Duck Bus Engine 250 HP Caterpillar Marine Engine Top Speed Top Speed: 8 nautical miles in water Land: 65 kmph Size Standard Length: 40’ Width: 102” Height: 11’7” Interior Height: 7’4” 49 passenger designed capacity Weight Front GAWR: (5448 kg) Rear GAWR: (8626 kg) GVWR

(14074 kg)

Construction Wheel Base: (6400 mm) Neway Air Suspension (Front + Rear) Heavy Duty Stabilizer Bar (1.5”) Radial Tires XZA2 275/80R 22.5 Floor is lightweight aluminium sheet over structural members. Full carpeted interior for passenger comfort and for noise abatement. The lower section below floor in the side sections will be foam filled. The foam fill material meets Mil Spec. and is approved by the Coast Guard Hull: 3/16” Marine Grade 5052 Plate with 6061 Grade Structural Members. Wheel Cut: 50 deg. Bilstein tuned shock absorbers Pneumatic (air) operated staircase

These amphibious warriors are going to change the tourist landscape. They represent a delightful blend of novelty and functionality. Story Ahfaaz Khan 74 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Propellers: Two 19” bronze with stainless rudders Fully covered top Seating: Bench style 2 person per side 4 per row with 12 rows of seats. Certification by United States Coast Guard All hull construction to A.B.S. standards october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 75

cover story / duck buses

Rajesh Gangar says that an amphibious bus can also be used as an emergency vehicle to rescue people during floods.

Creative Concepts which will operate the buses, targets 5 to 6 trips per bus per day. Each trip will be of 60 minutes duration with 40 minutes being on land and 20 minutes on water. After covering prominent places in South Mumbai on land, the Duck Bus will embark for the sea ride from the Gateway of India. ‘A 60-minute trip will be charged in the region of Rs 100150,’ comments Rajesh Gangar, proprietor, Creative Concepts. Besides general tourists, bulk bookings from private parties, film shoots and branding/advertisement possibilities could add to revenues. More buses could be brought depending upon customer response. On its part, the BEST will take care of infrastructure like parking

duck buses / cover story

bays and boarding points as well as maintenance of the buses. ‘Maintenance will be done by the BEST, but we may still need to source some parts from the US – this may lead to a 5-7 percent downtime. But going forward, some of imported parts may be localised in India. This will reduce potential downtime,’ clarifies Gangar. The cost of fuel will be borne by Creative Concepts. But the company will get the fuel at the same subsidised rates as enjoyed by the BEST. In return for using BEST’s infrastructure and brand, Creative Concepts will pay Rs 80,000 per bus each month to the transport body. There is a provision for a 5 percent price escalation every year. Safety is a key concern for Creative Concepts. ‘The buses have been designed in such a manner that the water level in the passenger compartment will not rise beyond 6 inches even if water gushes into the hull. As a result the vehicle will not sink under any circumstances’ claims Gangar. Irrespective of this in-built safety measure, buses will also be equipped with more than 50 life jackets on board. Creative Concepts is also imparting special training to the drivers of these buses at the manufacturer’s location. Some perspectives Gangar first chanced upon these buses in 1996 in Boston, US. But quite obviously there was no market for these buses in India at

The BEST earns Rs 80,000 per month from the Duck Bus service, while investing barely any amount.

that juncture. This scenario changed some 6-7 months ago. Some BEST officials saw Duck Buses doing well in the Canadian tourist circuit and thought that such a concept would work well in Mumbai too. Creative Concepts saw the opportunity and approached the BEST. Things clicked. The BEST figured out that they did not need to invest in buses nor take any risk and yet Rs 80,000 was going to be in the kitty every month. Besides the obvious tourist application, the use of these buses as public transport vehicles especially around Mumbai’s seaways may seem like a decent possibility. But, the constraint is the high price of the buses as also the lower speed in water. That said, the Duck Bus

The Duck Bus in Mumbai will hit waters from the Gateway of India.

76 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

could still prove useful while evacuating people during floods. The key aspect to the buses’ high costs is high import duties. ‘As yet, we do not know whether the vehicles will be taxed at 24 or 43 percent. The slab will depend upon how they are classified – as buses or as boats. And then, there could be an element of luxury tax too,’ bemoans Gangar. The other aspect hindering the massproliferation of these buses is legal restrictions in terms of those from maritime boards and coast guards. Secondly, there are only a few manufacturers of these niche machines. And the technology to make Duck Buses is not very easily available. Goa to promote hinterland The Goa Tourism Department to roll out amphibious coaches is to promote tourism in its hinterlands. ‘Generally Goa is seen as a beach tourism destination. But there are many heritage locations in the hinterlands. The backwaters too remain a largely unexplored area. With the amphibious coaches, tourists will now get to experience such facets of Goa,’ remarks Swapnil Naik, Director, Goa Tourism. Goa is likely to procure cheaper Duck Buses than those requisitioned for Mumbai. The authorities have opted for a 45-seater bus at a cost of around Rs 90 lakh. The buses will most likely be sourced from a manufacturer based in Singapore or China. The infrastructure development for

Swapnil Naik believes that introduction of amphibious buses will be a big boost to promote hinterland tourism in Goa

Understanding amphibious buses M

alta-based Waterbus International Limited manufactures and markets amphibious buses under the Amphicoach brand. Available in two and four wheel drive configurations, the Amphicoach is powered by the Euro 5 compliant Iveco Tector common rail turbo diesel engine with a power output varying from 250HP to 300HP. The vehicles can notch up a top speed of 70 kmph on road and sail in water at a speed of 5 nautical miles per hour. For customers who need higher speeds in water, Waterbus International offers a one-off wheel retraction system that increases the speed to 8 nautical miles. Under this arrangement, the rear wheels are retracted into the hull when the vehicle is in water, resulting in the drag coefficient being reduced. The Amphicoach utilises a marine jet drive unit specially designed by one of the worlds leading specialists in jet propulsion. The coach also comes with the option of an electric propulsion system. An onboard generator is incorporated into the drivetrain to provide additional power when the vehicle operates in water. The system is then recharged by a high powered alternator system when the vehicle starts moving on the road. These buses are available in three-variants. The luxury variant is an air-conditioned vehicle with luxury features like GPS and onboard toilet and other accessories. The standard version comes minus the air conditioning system and other luxurious amenities. The third version is an open top convertible. Waterbus International spent more than five years on research and development before going into the serial production. Amphicoach branded vehicles have been certified to EU standard by TUV the Classification Society whereas the hull design has been certified by Lloyds Register of London. Waterbus International has sold its products to UK and Hungary and is currently executing orders from Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and several South American countries. The company has also received enquires from African countries as well. ‘We have had enquiries from most countries worldwide and we are ramping up our production capacity to cater to this demand,’ comments Stephen Smith, managing director, Waterbus International. The company has deliberately not ventured in the Asian markets and the strategy will continue till it finds a partner to set up manufacturing operations in the region. ■

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 77

cover story / duck buses

duck buses / cover story Thus far, Goa is primarily known as a beach tourism destination.

Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is one of the prominent tourist places in the state.

the project will need an investment of Rs 74 crore out of which Rs 43 crore will be provided by the centre and the rest will be pumped in by the Goa government. The state government will also bear the cost of procurement of amphibious coaches. The acquisition will most likely be done by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC). Goa Tourism will be responsible for setting up infrastructure, whereas GTDC will be involved in operating services. In the beginning, there are plans to have one vehicle per stretch. Goa Tourism has also decided to involve private players

to operate the amphibious coaches. ‘Close to one million tourists visit Goa every year. Even if we assume 40 percent of them to be interested in visiting hinterlands, we are looking at a potential of 4,00,000 tourists a year,’ believes Naik. The amphibious buses make sense, because alternate modes of transport – cruise boats and road buses - involve both time and cost disincentives. ‘If we were to rely on cruise boats, the road buses would need to be ready at each point in the network. When you have 15 to 20 such points in the network, the expenditure on maintenance

and labour cots makes the entire proposition very expensive,’ explains Naik. An amphibious coach on the other hand takes away the need to station different buses at different points. Transport exclusively by road is not a sound solution either. ‘There are no major bridges in Goa. Therefore, many a times, one needs to take circuitous routes. The amphibious coaches, will curtail this travelling time by half, allowing tourists to visit a larger number of places within a shorter duration,’ says Naik. So, in the light of these advantages, the

An amphibious bus can sail at a speed of around 9 km per hour in water.

78 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

cover story / duck buses

Duck Bus could pay back very fast. ‘Looking at the huge number of tourists, coupled with relatively lower operating costs, we expect to have payback in as little as three years,’ continues Naik. The entire 25-km network for operation of amphibious coaches has been divided into two stretches. The northern stretch will be developed on the Mondovi River, while the southern stretch will come up around the Zuari River. These two stretches will be connected with the help of an interlinking canal. Each of the northern and the southern stretches will have 8 to 10 points of tourist interest. Jetties will be constructed on each of these points to facilitate movement of the amphibious coach from water to land and vice-versa. The construction of these jetties at different points will be completed by the end of next year. On the northern stretch, the amphibious vehicle will start from Panjim and will cover places like Britona church, Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary, Saptakoteshwar temple, Lamgao caves, Aravelem waterfalls, Surla Masjid, Tambdi Surla temple and Bondla wildlife sanctuary. On the southern stretch, tourists will get to visit Cumbarjua canal, Selaulim Dam, Chandor fort, Shivaji fort and various temples at Mahalsa, Kamaxi, Sri Balaji, Ramnathi and Veling. The Panjim Jetty, which is the starting point on the northern stretch, will also boast of an information plaza, multilevel car parking and a citizen facilitation centre (CFC). The CFC, to be developed in the form of a ship will house amphitheatres, cafeterias, shops and exhibition stalls. Robust construction The hull of these coaches is built from 6mm marine grade aluminium (Hydro 5083). ‘This is the best suited material for

1 80 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

For safety reasons, amphibious coaches are primarily operated in calm waters. Pic 1,2 & 3 show amphibious coaches that are in operation in the UK, Japan and Spain respectively.

marine application because of its lighter weight and superior strength,’ remarks Smith. The hull is completely watertight. This enables the vehicle to remain upright and afloat even when the hull is breached or swamped. Standard safety equipment provided on the vehicle include self-inflating lifejackets, safety belts, automatic or manual fire suppressant systems to extinguish fires in the machinery area. The passenger area is also sealed from the engine and machinery compartments for enhanced safety. Various visual and audio sensors constantly monitor every aspect of the vehicle to ensure smooth, problemfree running. Safe journey on the road is ensued by features like ABS, ventilated disc brakes all round, pulse electric wiring and a complex electronic engine management system. All exterior components are treated with the latest corrosion resistant solutions


which can withstand up to 3,500 hours of constant immersion in the highest concentration of salt water. The Amphicoach can be serviced at any truck or bus service station, thereby curtailing down time. Waterbus International offers a twelvemonth warranty across all its Amphicoach variants. In addition to amphibious coaches, Waterbus International also developed a dedicated vehicle for search and rescue operations. These 4-wheel drive all-terrain trucks can carry 10 tonnes of cargo whilst travelling at a speed of 20 plus knots in water and 70mph on the road. Apart from search and rescue operations, this truck can also be used as an amphibious troop carrier, as a navy ship tender for collecting supplies from inaccessible areas or as a remote island emergency fire tender. These vehicles can also be customised for use as armoured vehicles by the armed forces. ■



SIAM annual Convention

siam annual convention / in-depth

SIAM mulls CV industry’s future The leading lights of the CV industry brainstormed on how it can move ahead, despite being mired in a multitude of inefficiencies.


he 49th SIAM Annual Convention, held in Delhi on August 28, afforded an understanding of the CV industry through its own eyes. The theme up before a panel discussion was ‘Restructuring – Building a viable industry model: Challenges facing the commercial vehicle industry’. The panel was co-chaired by Dr.

Story Sridhar Chari Abhay Firodia, Chairman & MD Force Motors and Akash Passey, MD Volvo Buses India. The other panellists included Hakan Samuelsson, Chairman, MAN SE, David Bennett, President, Vehicle Group APAC, Eaton Corporation, Takao Suzuki, Chairman of the Board, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus and Prakash Telang, MDIndia Operations, Tata Motors. Dietmar Ostermann, Head, Global Automotive

Practice PRTM moderated the session. Dr. Firodia started by saying that the balance of power in the CV industry had shifted in favour of developing economies. The case in point is Mitsubishi Fuso. ‘We did 2,00,000 trucks and buses last year. But a poor Japanese market has forced a 50 percent production cut. We expect a return to last year’s figures only over a three-year horizon. The ray of hope is the The panel comprised of both Indian and overseas CV industry leaders.

82 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Kamal Nath states that mega road development projects in the order of 500 kms will bring in more productivity to the development activity.

fact that 70 percent of our products are exported - mainly to emerging markets, which should recover faster.’ David Bennett agrees. ‘Emerging markets have become core now. There is a proliferation of 400HP trucks in China. And the heavy duty market (over 35 tonnes) in that country is estimated to be at 6,00,000 units. This is larger than that in Europe.’ Hakan Samuelsson’s MAN SE has taken a 25 percent stake in China’s Sinotruk and will also licence its TGA truck technology in order to produce a new line of trucks for China and the rest of Asia. ‘We can no longer rely on exporting products out of Europe. Specific products need to be developed to meet the needs of emerging markets,’ he set out. Coming to India, the MCV market in this country is larger than that in the US according to Bennett. But, the panel did not think that this segment has a bright future going forward. Prakash Telang pointed out that with the advent of the hub and spoke paradigm, the MCV segment had shrunk considerably in India. While it was 43.6 percent of the total CV market in 2000, the same has halved to 21.8 percent in 2009. Simultaneously, the LCV and HCV segments now constitute 24.3 and 53.9 percent respectively of the 2009 CV market as against 15.4 and 41 percent in 2000. Samuelsson says that this is an encouraging sign, but the situation is slightly more complicated. ‘The MCV market is shrinking for sure in India. But it will not go away, unless we have strict enforcement of overloading norms.’ In the same breath, he believes that even heavy Indian trucks

Road building activity will also generate jobs in its wake.

Thrust on road building K

amal Nath, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, got proceedings off to a roaring start. ‘We expect to see 25 million cars, bikes and trucks on the road by 2015. My message to the auto industry is, you build the vehicles and I will make the roads,’ he announced. In line with his ambition to build 20 kms of road everyday, Nath said that, a whopping 350 road projects would need to be managed at the same time. Therefore, the NHAI would need to have more manpower, while a separate authority for expressways may be created. The perennial concern about finance was also sought to be addressed. ‘By September 30, we will come out with a mechanism to make funding easier,’ Nath added. There will also be a focus on mega road projects of 500 kms that will require investments of the order of USD 1 billion. ‘To execute such projects, many players will need to come together. They will also need to invest in the best technology that will get the work done fast,’ elaborated Nath. The added bonus from the road building activity will be job creation. Almost 5,00,000 jobs are expected to be created out of the Rs 1,00,000 crore road building effort. With respect to the CV industry, the road building programme will not only offer better infrastructure for trucks, but road construction activity will in itself fuel demand for them.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 83

in-depth / siam annual convention

siam annual convention / in-depth

PM Telang, MD (India Operations), Tata Motors believes that small commercial vehicles like the Ace are best suited to take on the challenges of poor last mile connectivity in India.

are not going to be ‘heavy’ as per global standards in a hurry. ‘The cost of fuel is high in India, while the driver’s remuneration is low. This means that the emphasis is on fuel-efficiency rather than on shorter driving hours. Extending this logic, India will continue to favour, less powerful but more fuel-efficient, smaller engines.’ TeA new generation of heavy trucks is expected to clock superior speeds on the expressways.

84 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

lang, whose company, Tata Motors now has genuinely ‘heavy’ World Trucks in its portfolio, says that it is hard to predict as to when the inflection point will occur for heavy trucks in India. ‘We are at stage 2 of the evolution of the CV industry. New roads are being built, the hub and spoke approach is starting to kick in, new players

are entering the market and there is greater awareness about new products. But, it will take a while for India to move to stage 3 like Brazil and China, with the European and US markets being at stage 4.’ It stands to reason that poor road infrastructure and operating environment is one factor that is hindering, India’s leap to the next stage. Says Telang, ‘using a 400 HP truck, truckers can make a Mumbai to Bangalore journey in 12 hours. But the problem lies, in the myriad of tolls, octrois and other harassments that they encounter. The time and expense that is wasted in this process nullifies the faster turnaround afforded by the powerful truck.’ The typical structure of the truck industry in India also discourages active technology adoption. ‘How can we make our trucks affordable, when increasingly stringent emission norms necessitate incorporation of expensive technology?’ asked Anirudh Bhuwalka, MD, AMW. This question could not be answered satisfactorily by the panel. The reality was threadbare. The Indian trucking industry suffers from a double agony. It is populated by

single truck owners, who collectively constitute overcapacity. Even organised truck fleet owners tap into this pool on a turnkey basis and at very low freight rates. Hence, the single truck owner is not able to muster any surplus to invest in a newer and more expensive truck. Even a scheme like ‘cash for clunkers’ is unlikely to propel momentum in favour of new trucks. ‘Any move to incentivise the disposal of old trucks and acquire new ones needs political will. Even the move to scrap over 15-year old trucks is being resisted by the unions,’ states Dr. Firodia. Telang offers an ironic sense of relief to this scenario. He believes that emission standards in India are unlikely to match those in overseas markets in a hurry. Therefore the need for more expensive technology is not immediate. ‘Our country does not have the high grade of fuel needed to meet superior emission norms. Secondly, even the service infrastructure is not place. We cannot have high technology trucks being serviced by roadside mechanics, as Indian trucks currently are.’ But, technology need not be complete-

ly kept out of the market. Eaton has got Tata Motors to sample its hybrid transmissions being deployed in Chinese buses. And, Tata Motors is seriously considering introducing such products in India. ‘We believe that there is a considerable upside to hybrid technology in buses as well as urban waste management solutions. But, even before this technology is deployed, it will help if the government can further subsidise CNG prices and encourage CNG buses that in turn can reduce emissions sharply,’ explains Telang. Small is beautiful David Bennett feels that, aside from the debate on HCVs, the LCV market has ample space to grow. The ban on the entry of heavy trucks into cities will do much to help sales. But, he is not so sure that the same kind of LCVs that work in Europe will do duty in India. ‘Inferior roads typically encourage smaller vehicles. But, one is likely to see very small trucks in India as opposed to the 3.5 tonners seen in Europe.’ Tata Motors, which has the wildly popular Ace in its kitty, can hardly disagree. ‘We

Sales of Mitsubishi Fuso trucks have dropped dramatically. A full recovery is not expected until 2011.

believe that small is beautiful. But there are differences in the definition of what is ‘small’. In Europe or the US, last mile distribution is organised. Hence, we can have 9-11 tonners doing duty in cities. In India, we will need smaller vehicles like the Ace to reach the mom and pop stores,’ states Telang. ■

Both Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland are looking to introduce hybrid bus concepts in 2010.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 85

Regd. Office Plot No A-20, Navlakh Umbre, MIDC Talegaon, Taluka- Maval, Pune-410506 (India) Tel : 02114 - 392100 / 392109 Fax : 02114 - 392118

small wonder

voting for hydrogen

Low-cost hydrogen to partly fuel three-wheelers

voting for hydrogen / small wonder


f a team of students and faculty from Bangalore-based R.V. College of Engineering (RVCE) has its way, three-wheelers could end up a lot greener while delivering the greenbucks too. Relying on a home-grown catalytic converter kit, the team has developed a hydrogen and oxygen – assisted drive system to improve the combustion of petrol in three-wheelers. The natural result is lower emissions and better fuel-efficiency. ‘At higher rpms, there is not enough time to completely burn fuel in the combustion chamber. Once pumped into the intake manifold, hydrogen with its low ignition temperature and oxygen with its combustion supporting properties can help hasten the combustion of petrol. Better combustion results in superior fuel efficiency and lower emissions,’ explains Dr B. Anand, professor and head, department of mechanical engineering, RVCE. These claims are substantiated by Matha Emission Testing Centre in Bangalore, which performed extensive tests on a three-wheeler driven by this unique system. The test results show that carbon monoxide emissions, which are on an average around 2-2.5 percent of total emissions, dropped to as low as 0.033 percent. Similarly the release of hydrocarbons fell to a meagre 21 parts per million (ppm) as against a maximum permissible level of 4500 ppm. Just as importantly, the fuel efficiency of the vehicle also went up by 20 percent. According to Dr. Shanmukha Nagaraj, professor, department of mechanical engineering, RVCE and co-ordinator of this project, ‘The concept of hydrogen & oxygen-assisted combustion has been seen

Dr. Shanmukha Nagaraj claims that this is the first instance of hydrogen and oxygen assisted combustion being seen in three-wheelers.

in passenger cars but we are the first in the world to implement such a system in a three-wheeler. We are proud to state that the complete designing of the systems and its components have been done in-house at RVCE’. At the heart of this hybrid system is a catalytic converter kit consisting of a 12 volt battery and an electrolyser. Four canisters, each with a capacity to hold 90 ml solution of KOH (potassium hydroxide) and distilled water, are housed inside the electrolyser. The battery is operated with the help of a simple on-off switch, housed among other regular three-wheeler controls. Once the battery is switched on, the HyOx gas (hydrogen and oxygen) from the electrolysis of water is directly pumped into the intake manifold. ‘We have configured the system in such a way that during each intake stroke, the hydrogen is automatically sucked into the engine,’ explains

Karthik Sivaram, a first year student of Industrial Engineering and Management, RVCE. Producing and using only as much hydrogen as needed, does away with the challenge to store the gas. ‘Hydrogen is a very light gas and therefore needs to be stored in containers at very high pressure. But such storage increases the temperature inside the container, which may lead to explosions,’ remarks Rajiv Hirur, a first year student of mechanical engineering, RVCE. Team RVCE has devised solutions to customise the catalytic converter kit in sync with different operating conditions. ‘We surveyed around 100 three-wheeler owners/drivers to understand operating patterns. It was found that there were wide variations in such patterns. While on an average, an owner operated a three-wheeler between 3-8 hours, those renting their rickshaws operated them for 16-20 hours. The ampere hour (Ah) range of the battery has been configured depending upon operating hours,’ says Sivaram. So while a three-wheeler that operates for 3-4 hours everyday will need a 40 Ah battery, another which does 16-20 hours will require a 100 Ah battery. The cost of the catalytic converter kit will range between Rs 3,500 to 5,000, depending upon the choice of the battery. ‘During our survey we found out that the three-wheeler owners were not willing to buy kits costing more than Rs 5,000,’ adds Sivaram. Attractive economic proposition The team has chalked out a business plan to

The four canisters can hold 360 ml of water and potassium hydroxide solution

A team from Bangalore’s RVCE demonstrates that the fuel can be generated cheaply and deployed effectively to improve fuel-economy and emissions of regular threewheeler petrol engines Story Ahfaaz Khan Photography Ahfaaz Khan and RVCE 88 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Close-up of the canister in which electrolysis of water occurs

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 89

small wonder / voting for hydrogen

aaa / aaa

The proud team that has designed the system and its components

The HyOx gas generated through electrolysis is pumped into the intake manifold

market the kits. They reckon that the payback period of the Rs 5,000 kit would be 3 to 5 months. The survey revealed that average distance covered by a three-wheeler per day is about 100 km. Therefore the fuel bill at an average of 22 km to a litre is Rs 6,800 per month. On the other hand, a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy on account of the catalytic converter would see the monthly bill dropping to around Rs 5,750. Apart from this, additional benefits also accrue in the form of lower maintenance costs. ‘Since the fuel is completely burnt, there are no deposits on pistons and cylinder valves. Therefore maintenance costs on engines also come down,’ remarks Nagaraj. Low operating costs make the catalytic converter kit a handy option. ‘One cycle of complete recharge will consume 1-1.5 units of electricity. So, every month, 3045 units of electricity would be needed to charge a battery. We expect most threewheeler owners to be charged at a concessional rate of Rs 2 per unit by the Karnataka Government. Therefore the electricity bill would only amount to Rs 90,’ explains Karthik. The four canisters hold 360 ml of potassium hydroxide and distilled water. One litre of this solution costing Rs 20 is expected to last for a month. ‘Add some other miscellaneous overheads and the monthly operating costs should not add up to more than Rs 140,’ adds Karthik.

project organised by Dutch NGO Enviu to develop hybrid three-wheelers. The NGO donated a three-wheeler to RVCE to get work underway. During the development phase, RVCE was helped by prominent companies like Bosch, Bajaj Auto and Exide Batteries. Bosch provided 30 percent funding to the project as well as technical knowledge to operate power tools. The remaining finance was mustered internally. Bajaj Auto pitched in by helping students understand the working of an internal combustion engine and its servicing. Exide was tapped in order to understand the working of batteries. Also, students approached faculty from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore to get to grips with the kinematics behind electrolysis. A lot may have been achieved, but it is still work in progress. The team states

that the new drive system will need more research and development before commercialisation. But once the technology is proven, the scope is immense. Says Nagaraj, ‘We have tested this concept only on petrol engines, but there is a global precedent of the same being used with diesel and CNG engines. If our initial efforts are successful, we can work on extension of this technology. But, in this quest, the auto industry’s financial and technical support will be essential’. Starting life in 1963, RVCE has been rated among India’s best engineering colleges. It boasts of a well-funded R&D centre which has been instrumental in notching up many patents. The students also participate in prestigious automotive events like Formula SAE, Mini Baja and Super Mileage. ■

The team at RVCE surveyed around 100 three-wheeler owners/operators in Chennai and Bangalore.

A background The genesis of this project dates back to mid-2008. Team RVCE participated in a 90 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 91

towering ambitions


kedpl / towering ambitions

W O C h Cas Mobile cellular transmission towers could be the next big thing. Coming off a slow start, Kotkar Energy Dynamics looks set to cash in this time around.

92 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Extended outriggers are integral to the overall stabality of a tower.

Story Kiran Bajad Photography Sawan Sekhar Hembram


t may take months for a telecom service provider to acquire land and construct a fixed cellular transmission tower. But, wouldn’t it be instant gratification if a tower could be up in 2 - 3 days? That is the promising premise of mobile cellular transmission towers. Kotkar Energy Dynamics Private Limited (KEDPL) manufactures truck and trailer mounted cellular transmission towers called Cell-on-Wheels (COW). The Punebased company is optimistic about the potential of this product. And if managing director Atul Kotkar, is to be believed, the company might sell around 400 to 500 Cell-onWheels by the end of this fiscal. KEDPL has two kinds of customers for Cell-onWheels. While on the one hand, there are telecom service providers like Idea, Reliance and Airtel, on the other are passive infrastructure providers like Wireless Tata Telecom Infrastructure (WTTI), Quippo Telecom Infrastructure Limited and GTL Limited. With most telecom service providers intent on off shoring maintenance work to passive infrastructure providers, the later is expected to account for 70 percent of demand for towers from next year. ‘Mobile towers can be used by more than one company to test market services in a particular region without needing to construct a dedi-

Atul Kotkar believes that the country will need around 15,000 cell-on-wheels over the next five years.

cated tower. That is where the passive infrastructure providers will step in with their mobile towers,’ adds Kotkar. To cater to this segment, KEDPL is developing a tower which can be shared by three operators. ‘A huge amount of routing of cables and wires needs to be done to accommodate three service providers,’ informs Kotkar. While this work is underway, KEDPL has already bagged an order for 20 units from WTTI, a subsidiary of Tata Teleservices. Orders have also been received from cellular service providers like Idea and Etisalat DB India Private Limited, which is an Indian arm of UAE-based, Emirates Telecommunication Corporation, Etisalat. A substantial chunk of business is also expected from passive infrastructure service providers like Quippo and GTL. In the following two years, KEDPL targets to sell 2,000 units of Cell-on-Wheels on an annual basis. ‘The emergence of 3G and 4G services coupled with telecom operators’ expansion plans in rural areas will require rapid setting up of telecommunication networks. As a result, there could be a demand for around 10,000 to 15,000 units over the next five years. We expect to garner 50 percent of this demand every year,’ explains Kotkar. Commensurately, a considerable ramp up is taking place at KEDPL’s Pune plant. The existing capacity for 25 towers a months will be scaled up to 50 units within a couple of months. From March 2010,

this manufacturing capacity will reach a level of 150-170 units a month. ‘Earlier we made towers from aluminium. Now we make them with steel. Since steel is more malleable than aluminium, we have also reduced our production time by half. This has doubled out production capacity,’ reasons Kotkar. Apart from this, KEDPL has also decided to offload some of the component manufacturing to a couple of companies in and around Pune. ‘We have identified certain companies who have good fabrication and surface treatment facilities to manufacture components,’ adds Kotkar. From the next fiscal, KEDL will also look to export towers to customers like Alcatel Lucent in the Middle East and various passive infrastructure providers in Africa and SAARC countries. ‘There is a 40 percent difference be-

tween our manufacturing costs and those of European manufacturers. This will be an important factor in our effort to target export markets,’ believes Kotkar. KEDPL expects to export 200 to 300 towers next year. Such ambitions are a far cry for a company which saw its products languishing in obscurity for almost five years. KEDPL manufactured its first mobile tower way back in 2002 for Reliance Communications. The tower manufacturer supplied 30 truck-mounted units to Reliance, which at that time was on a massive network expansion spree. ‘Actually Reliance had a demand for 100 units, but because of our

Such semi-trailer mounted towers are gradually finding greater acceptance in the telecom industry.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 93

towering ambitions / kedpl

kedpl / towering ambitions

Factors like topography, wind speeds and moisture content in the atmosphere need to be taken into account before designing a tower.

capacity limitations we could provide them with only 30 units. We however helped Reliance by providing technical knowledge in order to have the remaining units built by other manufacturers,’ recollects Kotkar. However this move backfired for KEDPL. ‘The 70 units were built by manufacturers who had no domain expertise. Therefore, they fared way below expectations. Consequently, not only Reliance but also most other telecom operators lost confidence in this product. And, for the next four to five years, there was no major demand for these towers,’ continues Kotkar. The tide turned for KEDPL only post-2008 when cut throat competition and the resultant need for rapid expansion forced telecom service providers to re-look

at mobile towers. Towering line-up KEDPL manufactures towers in 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 metre dimensions - with the later two being the majority ones. A 40 metre trailer-mounted tower needs a 40-tonne prime mover; whereas a 30 metre tower can be built on a 25-tonne truck. Similarly a 15 metre tower can be made on a 709 platform. A 40 metre tower is offered only as a trailer mounted versions whereas a 30 metre tower is offered in rigid as well as trailer-mounted variants. ‘In India, the maximum length of a rigid chassis is 30 ft. To manufacture a 40 metre tower, one needs a platform length of 40 metres, which is only possible in a trailer,’


2 94 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

All the electricals (Pic 2) in the tower are powered by a diesel generator set (above). Apart from this, a tower also features insulated airconditioning unit (pic1 ) to house telecommunication equipment.

explains Kotkar. The cost of a tower depends upon a number of factors including single or multiple use, rigid or trailer mounted, painting with or without galvanisation and the quality of components that are demanded by a customer. While the price of a 30 metre tower excluding the base vehicle ranges between Rs 15 - 35 lakh that of a 40 metre tower ranges between Rs 35 - 45 lakh. According to Kotkar, though costly, the trailer mounted version has gradually started getting greater acceptance in India. It is expected that from 2010 onwards, about 75 percent of demand will be for trailer-mounted towers. This is because; the tower is stationary for more than 95 percent of the time. Therefore, a single prime mover can cater to multiple trailers, saving the operator considerable maintenance and labour costs. Imparting stability The topography of the area including the soil and surrounding atmosphere is important in the construction of a tower. Depending upon this, the type of material to be used for construction is decided. One of primary criteria while designing a tower is its stability. Higher the tower, greater the wind pressure that it is subjected to. Therefore, the tower needs a stronger base. The increased base area is achieved with the help of four out

(Above and 1&2) KEDPL has also developed an ambulance prototype on Premier’s Sigma platform.


triggers which fan out when the tower is to be erected. Once the outriggers are extended and fixed to the ground, the tower platform is made horizontal with the help of mechanical jacks. Then the tower is raised to the desired height with the help of mechanical winches. Apart from out triggers, winches and jacks, a typical Cell-on-Wheels consists of a insulated shelter for housing telecommunication equipments, diesel-generator set for powering the electricals, an air conditioning unit, RF and MW cable winding

and holder drum, fire alarm system, aviation lamp and lightning arrester. For 30/40 metre towers, the aviation lamp is in place to offer warning signals for aircrafts. The lightning arrester is used to prevent any damages to telecommunication equipment. The arrester has an arrangement which diverts the lightning to the ground without enabling it to pass through the equipment. The Cell-on-Wheels also consists of a framework welded to the trailer or the chassis. The tower is mounted on to the framework with the help of pivots and fas-


teners. Before transporting a tower from one place to another, the trailer is lowered, decoupled from the framework, turned horizontally and then transported from one location to another. This ease of relocation enables a mobile tower to offset the limitation of size relative to a ground-based tower. While the former can go upto only 40 metres, the latter can extend to 60 metres. But like we started this piece, sheer mobility and applicability for multiple operators, clinches the deal for the COW. ■ october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 95

on the move

Mahanagar Gas


mahanagar gas / on the move



96 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

The recent discovery of gas in the KG6 basin and Rajasthan has helped assuage concerns about the availability of natural gas.

There are also 1,800 and 3,000 buses and trucks on the city’s roads. ‘With these vehicles being converted to CNG, there has been a reduction of 900 tonnes of pollution per day in the city,’ claims Gupta. CNG comprises of 80-95 percent methane, a hydrocarbon consisting of one atom of carbon and 4 atoms of hydrogen.

Since the carbon content is lower, CNG post combustion emits a lower quantity of carbon monoxide. Even the emission of harmful suspended particulate matter like oxides of sulphur and nitrogen is very minimal. Apart from being environmentfriendly, CNG is also very safe. ‘CNG is lighter than air and therefore on leakage,

MGL has 136 dispensing stations and 685 dispensing points in Mumbai and adjoing areas of Thane, Mira-Bhayander and Navi Mumbai.

on CNG

Mumbai may not have a declared CNG agenda like Delhi, but MGL’s efforts could achieve the same results for the city – minus the fuss. Story Ahfaaz Khan

hings have started moving in the fast lane for Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL), the Mumbai-based natural gas distribution company. MGL has entered into an agreement with the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to set up CNG dispensing stations at each of the city bus service provider’s 25 depots in Mumbai. Dispensing sta-

Apart from BEST, MGL has entered into similar arrangements with Thane Municipal Transport (TMT), Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) and the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). Currently, TMT runs 50 buses on CNG and the plan is to convert a similar number to the fuel over the next six months. MGL is also setting up a CNG dispensing station at Turbhe for 150 CNG buses that NMMT plans to start operating from this month. Having already purchased around 250 CNG buses, MSRTC is getting ready to acquire even more in the future. Partnering with MSRTC, MGL is currently setting up dispensing stations at Kurla and Thane, while blueprints have also been developed to develop a dispensing station at Panvel. MGL has focussed on Mumbai’s public transport vehicles. ‘Having first converted taxis and three-wheelers to CNG, we have now directed our efforts to buses,’ recounts Gupta. Currently, out of the 2 lakh vehicles operating in and around Mumbai, three-wheelers and taxis stack up to 1,32,000 and 50,000 numbers respectively.

Prafulla Kumar Gupta says that supplying CNG to public transport vehicles has been the priority for MGL since its inception.

tions have already been set up at 6 depots and the target is to add another 8-10 stations by the end of this fiscal. ‘By the middle of next year, two-thirds of BEST’s fleet will be converted to CNG. The remainder will switch to CNG over the next couple of years,’ believes Prafulla Kumar Gupta, MD, MGL. BEST has a fleet of around 3,800 buses, out of which almost 1,500 have already been converted to CNG. Once the new dispensing stations are set up in 10 depots, another 1,750 buses will start running on the clean fuel. october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 97

on the move / mahanagar gas

mahanagar gas / on the move

The next 2-3 years will witness around 10,000 km of gas pipelines being laid out in the country.

disburses easily into the atmosphere. Its self-ignition temperature is very high, therefore, one hardly comes across instances of a CNG vehicle catching fire,’ explains Gupta. MGL is set to test pilot an 80:20 CNGhydrogen blend in Mumbai. The trials, to be effected on a fleet of BEST buses are expected to begin in few months. ‘The promoter of this technology claims a 10 percent improvement in engine life and mileage, something which we will test and validate during our trials. If the trials are successful, we will roll out this blend in Mumbai,’ remarks Gupta. He declines to give out either the name of supplier or the pricing of this blend, but says that the latter will be ‘reasonable’. Currently CNG retails at a price of about Rs 25 per kg which is 40 and 60 per-

cent cheaper relative to diesel and petrol. ‘So, even if this blend is priced a bit higher, we will still remain competitive with respect to conventional fuels,’ explains Gupta. Massive Expansion on the cards Currently MGL caters to Mumbai, as well as adjoining areas such as Thane, Mira Road-Bhayander and Navi Mumbai. The company has 136 dispensing stations and 685 dispensing points in these four areas that have a total decompression capacity of 15 lakh kg per day. This fiscal, MGL is investing around Rs 300 crore to expand its foot print. This figure is double that spent in 2008-09. Consequently around 18 CNG dispensing stations will be set up this fiscal. ‘Till last year, we were setting up 68 new dispensing stations every year. The

target from this year onward is 20 stations every year,’ sets out Gupta. While earlier, public sector CNG providers like Delhi’s Indraprastha and MGL were restricted to their respective cities, they can now spread their wings. As such, MGL has decided to extend its services to outlying areas like Kalyan-Dombivali, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi, Panvel, Taloja and Khargar. ‘We will start laying out infrastructure in these areas before March 2010. The fuel will be offered starting next fiscal,’ remarks Gupta. MGL has also decided to bid to offer CNG in cities like Nashik, Aurangabad and Ahmednagar. This spurt in activity is because of a recent recovery of gas at Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna-Godavari basin. In sync with this supply, a massive supply of CNG pipelines is being laid out in the country. Earlier the only source of gas for MGL was Bombay High. It used to receive around 1.5 mmscmd of gas at the city gate station located in Wadala. Now with fresh supplies expected to come in from the KG basin, a new city gate station is being set up at Mahape, Navi Mumbai. Apart from the KG basin, this city gate station will also be connected to Dahej, Hajira LNG terminal and Dhabol. ‘Around 10,000 km of gas pipelines are being laid out in the country. This will enable us to source gas from supply points anywhere across the country. Since our network is completely integrated, both the city gas stations will feed into the network. This will ensure round the clock availability of gas in our entire area of our operations,’ informs Gupta. MGL has also chalked out certain

Over the next three years, the entire fleet of BEST buses will operate on the gas.

Curently around 1,500 BEST buses run on CNG.

98 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Close to 2 lakh vehicles in Mumbai and adjacent areas operate on CNG. This results in an emissions reduction to the tune of 900 tonnes every day.

solutions to counter the limitation of space while expanding its services. The company has inked an agreement with public transport bodies like BEST, MSRTC, MMT, and TMT whereby it will set up a CNG dispensing station inside depots belonging to these transport bodies to meet their captive needs. In return, MGL will be allotted space at the point of entry to depots in order to set up another dispensing station for general customers. According to Gupta ‘We need a space of at least 300 square metres to set up a dispensing station’. Close to 50 dispensing stations have already been set up based on this arrangement. In addition to this, MGL has also entered into an agreement with various public sector oil companies like IOC, BPCL and HPCL to setting up dispensing points in their outlets. This is a win-win deal. Since the PSUs can offer all three fuels to customers while MGL can expand its network. Almost 100 such dispensing points are in operation currently, with some more to be added in the future.

MGL sources dispensing stations from Argentina, New Zealand, Canada and other European countries. While, the maintenance of dispensing stations is outsourced to the manufacturer that of the dispensers is done in-house. ‘A dispenser is made of different components which need main-

tenance after specified time intervals. We follow maintenance procedures very diligently. Hence, our uptimes are among the best in the industry. Even during the July 2005 floods where all utilities stopped working, our stations were up and running,’ claims Gupta. ■ MGL has entered into an agreement with players like HPCLto set up CNG dispensing points at their existing outlets.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 99

wheels in motion


Mysore-KSRTC / wheels in motion

Mysore seeks to modernise public transport system The lack of dedicated lanes may prevent Mysore from claiming to have come out with a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). But what’s in a name? The key deliverables for a quality public transport system are surely falling in place. Story Ahfaaz Khan


ysore is in for a massive public transport overhaul under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). An impressive 150 buses will be inducted, while 7 Inter Modal Transit Centres (IMTCs) will set up along with an IT-enabled Intelligent Transport System (ITS). These developments will entail investments to the tune of Rs 236 crore. This amount will be split between the Central Government, Karnataka Government and the KSRTC in the 80:10:10 ratio. Mysore is in for a massive public transport overhaul under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). An impressive 150 buses will be inducted, while 7 Inter Modal Transit Centres (IMTCs) will set up along with an IT-enabled Intelligent Transport System (ITS). These developments will entail investments to the tune of Rs 236 crore. This amount will be split between the Central Government, Karnataka Government and the KSRTC in the 80:10:10 ratio. Currently, the Karnataka State Road 100 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Gaurav Gupta states that routine replacements of 30-40 buses per annum is not adequate to modernise Mysore’s public transport system.

Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates only 280 buses in the city with an estimated population of close to a million residents. Having run for more than 5 lakh km, most of the 1100 mm buses are in poor shape. And despite a 70 percent load factor, they manage to carry just two percent of commuters. Therefore, the KSRTC is putting a new breed of buses on the road to draw

commuters who use either private means of transport or cabs and three-wheelers. ‘About 30-40 buses - that have done 7.5 lakh kilometres - are replaced each year. But this level of replacement is not enough to modernise the fleet. Therefore, we made a decision to acquire better quality buses,’ informs Gaurav Gupta, managing director, KSRTC.

Mysore is known for its chaotic traffic scene. Public transport buses are used by only 2 percent of commuters.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 101

wheels in motion / Mysore-KSRTC

Volvo Buses will supply 30 buses by the end of this month.

To this end, it has created a nodal agency, the Mysore City Transport Division (MCTD) to oversee the revamp effort. At a total outlay of Rs 53.78 crore, MCTD will acquire 30, 41 and 79 buses from the stables of Volvo Buses, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland respectively. ‘These 42seater buses will be acquired by Octoberend,’ adds Gupta. These buses will occupy various ends of the spectrum. While the

CG Anand feels that commuters using private vehicles will switch to public transport, if they can know arrival times in advance.

102 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

floor height of the AC Volvo buses is 400 mm that of the non-AC Tata and Ashok Leyland buses is 650 mm and 900 mm respectively. The Ashok Leyland buses are different from the other two buses in that their bodies are being built by KSRTC. ‘The bodies for the 900 mm buses are being fabricated at KSRTC’s regional workshops in Bangalore and Hassan. Put together, these two workshops have a capacity to manufacture 1,000 new buses per annum,’ explains C.G. Anand, Chief Mechanical Engineer, KSRTC. These buses will feature a good mix of functionality and aesthetics. For starters, a lower floor height and higher roof have increased the interior height to 87 inches, as against just 70 inches earlier. Secondly, the bus’ single piece windscreen affords visibility of 500 metres. Thirdly, two roof hatches have been provided to improve ventilation in the bus. Fourthly, and importantly from a safety perspective, the entire rear section of the bus has been configured to be an emergency door to allow passengers to be easily evacuated in the event of an emergency. Fifthly, the ergonomic plastic injection moulded seats will ensure that

Most of the current lot of 1100 mm buses are not in such good shape.

passengers have little to complain about. The big draw is the electronic destination boards and passenger announcement systems. The contract for these display boards has gone to Hannover Displays. The fullybuilt Tata and Volvo Buses will come with their own electronic display boards. Intelligent Transport System The electronic display boards are part of the KSRTC’s drive to create an ITS at an investment of almost Rs 20 crore. Under the system, a tracking system / VMU Vehicle Mounted Unit fitted in the buses will calculate positions from the GPRS receiver. The VMU will then transfer data to the control centre server through GPRS interface for processing / prediction of

wheels in motion / Mysore-KSRTC

arrival time of buses of different bus stops. The GPRS tracking unit fitted in the bus will also transfer the current location of the bus to the bus mounted display units and also facilitate the audio announcements. There system also provides for a two way interface between the driver and the control room. The vehicle information system will keep the driver informed about the quality of various components and their maintenance schedules, as well as timely warnings to avoid congested roads. The control room gets access to information such as: missed or late trips, breakdown, accidents, average speeds, fuel consumption, improper stops at bus stops, driver behaviour, deviation in routes, speed violations and pollution from the buses. The network will also extend to bus stops. ‘Over the next two years, about 100 existing bus stops will be upgraded to make them a part of the ITS,’ reveals Anand. The bus stops will also have display boards to inform passengers about the estimated arrival time of buses on different routes. ‘If passengers can know in advance about the arrival time of buses, they can plan journeys better. Also, improved reliability of the service will encourage commuters currently using private vehicles to switch to public transport,’ adds Anand. Thanks to the ITS, the KSRTC plans to add 43 more routes to the current tally of 183. And, the frequency of bus services should also improve considerably to 5-20 minutes. The ITS will also help the KSRTC generate revenues through advertisements.

Inside a spacious Volvo city bus.

104 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

A creative visualization of an IMTC. Such centres will offer railway ticketing, parking, shopping and eating facilities, besides acting as bus stops.

‘Until now, only the exterior and interior surfaces of the buses were thought to be potential space for advertising. But now, the display boards on the buses as well as the stops can carry commercial messages. When this is coupled with the improved aesthetics of the new buses, we expect many advertisers to partner with us,’ explains Gupta. Continuing the ITS theme, smart cards will be introduced at some point in the future. ‘The KSRTC already prides itself on its electronic ticketing system. We are evaluating the feasibility of ticketing through prepaid smart cards,’ says Anand. Inter Modal Transit Centres KSRTC has taken up the construction of seven inter-modal transit centers at Mysore. The total cost of these projects is esti-

mated to be about Rs 108.59 crore. These transit centers are located in high traffic potential areas. The project aims at giving passengers inter modal transit facilities under one roof. The IMTCs will have park and ride facilities (where cars and bikes can be parked and buses be taken to final destinations). This will encourage the use of public transportation instead of individual vehicles. The project will also provide bus-rail-air reservation counters for advance bookings and facilities for utility bill payments. The transit centers will have modern design and other amenities, including clean toilets, health centres, libraries, rest rooms and restaurants and also subways to enable seamless movement within the IMTCs These IMTCs will come up within two years. ■

The newly built buses will have a special emergency door at the rear.


Talking Heads Without a shadow of doubt, we have gone

The perspectives are fairly clear. The road building

through trying times. But the revival in July and

programme will help drive sales of both trucks and

August has brought some timely cheer. Finance is


largely back on track, the BSE sensex is rocketing

forecast for the CV industry remains at 6-7 percent. And

up and fresh demand is coming through. That is the

increasingly as trucks get bigger and more powerful,

sentiment echoed by the head honchos we managed

many manufacturers are thinking through the idea of

to speak with. Most of them offer interesting insights

having to sell fewer trucks at better margins. In this,

into how they cut their losses during the recent bleak

everyone wants to see the Indian CV industry improve

times. But in the same breath, they will also tell you

its efficiencies and replace old trucks with new ones.

that their product launch plans are right on track.

The immediate concern is that a high fiscal deficit

And, indeed the tyre makers are putting up fresh

may push up interest rates and that there may be no


stimulus to STUs to purchase buses next year.





october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 105


abhay firodia and hakan samuelsson

abhay firodia and hakan samuelsson / Interview

What are your impressions of the MAN-FORCE JV? Hakan Samuelsson: I have been impressed with the speed and the efforts that have gone into the localisation of the products. Right now, we have a range that is 90 percent local. No other European OEM has something similar. The challenge is to bring this vehicle into the market and make it more visible.

Meeting Abhay Firodia, CMD of MAN FORCE TRUCKS & Force Motors and Hakan Samuelsson, Chairman MAN SE together is a rare pleasure. They tell us how India and other emerging markets stack up in MAN’s scheme of affairs.

Abhay Firodia: Improving volumes will improve our price position in the market and reduce costs. MAN has embarked on different ventures in China and India. Can there be synergies? HS: What we are doing in China (post acquisition of a 25 percent stake in Sinotruk) is similar to what has happened in India. We are building trucks needed by the local market as also for some exports. As such, the specifications of trucks made in either country will be different. Chinese trucks

are generally a step ahead of In sync with partner MAN plans India. The Indian trucks are Sinotruk, to localise the TGA series in China more similar to those that we make in Brazil (MAN recently acquired Volkswagen’s Brazilian truck business). So over a period of time, our programmes in these countries could grow together and demand higher specification trucks. However, it must be noted that the specifications of trucks in Europe are different from that in India and China. So, we will not completely locate weight ratios in this country, it will be a production in these countries, even if it is decade before such premium trucks grow more efficient to do so. But, the advantage in volumes in India – therefore they canis that, we can cultivate local suppliers, not be localised just yet. As far as exwho can then supply components for our ports are concerned, we are very clear that European operations. MAN has the power and organisation to optimise potential. But, this is the worst AF: Technologically advanced platforms time to think of immediately ramping up like the TGA are being introduced in Chi- exports. All international markets are exna now. But, considering the low power to tremely weak. Having said that, markets The 25.280 6x4 tipper will pack quite a punch at the mines.

Interview Sridhar Chari

‘Local and global OEMs need each other’ 106 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 107

interview / abhay firodia and hakan samuelsson

at ways to co-operate with other manufacturers (including Scania). We anyway do axles in collaboration with Daimler and engines with Navistar.

MAN has recently acquired VW’s Brazilian truck division.

will come back in a year or two and there will be a huge opportunity to export out of India. At that juncture, MAN will have to define how much each centre of operation - in China, India and Brazil - should export and to which markets. On this, we are willing to give time to MAN, as they have a lot on their platter right now. Is it easy to share technology in China? Do you have enough control over Sinotruk’s operations? HS: It is not easy at all. We must be sure of the influence that we will have. Now, we had entered into some joint ventures in China in the past. But the JV with Sinotruk is different. We are entering as the single biggest private shareholder in China’s biggest truck maker. And, we will have a

Sinotruk is China’s largest heavy truck maker.

108 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

blocking minority stake, so that will give us considerable influence, in return for sharing technology. We accept that the Chinese government still owns 51 percent in Sinotruk. But, we are looking at the long term picture in terms of access to the huge Chinese market and low cost suppliers. We believe that this is the right time to enter the market. We cannot keep waiting for an opportunity to buy out a company. That is the same reason, why we entered into a JV with Force Motors in India. The fact is that both the local and global OEMs need each other. The global player cannot enter a market entirely on its own and the local counterpart cannot afford to remain completely local either. Are there any further possibilities of consolidation amongst Volkswagen, MAN and Scania? HS: VW owns 30 percent in MAN and close to 70 percent in Scania. But now, it has sold its Brazilian business to MAN. And, so far as MAN and Scania are concerned, there are no concrete projects or plans underway to integrate. We recognise the need to have a different identity for the two brands. Scania, is part of VW, so, it is upto the boards of Scania and VW to decide the way forward. But, having said that, we are looking

What is your assessment of the global CV industry? When will it recover? HS: Of course, there is huge over capacity at the moment. But, this is on account of the cyclical nature of the industry. While in a boom, capacity is always short, during a slowdown, we need to adjust. There may be technical capacity, but, one can always moderate manpower according to the market. Even today, we do not see any real signs of improvement. What, we have seen though is a leveling out, which is a good sign - volumes have been stable, albeit at a low level. The European and US markets which took a sharp dip after hitting a high peak will take longer than normal to recover, but they will eventually. So, we would have to wait until 2010, till we see the first signs. As for MAN, we see no signs of growth next year. Sales should be more or less flat. Is the reading for India slightly different? AF: India will recover faster than the more mature markets. But, whether we will return to 2007 levels either this year or the next – I doubt very much. We will be very happy to achieve the same numbers as last year. ■



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R . Seshasayee

R. Seshasayee / Interview

R. Seshasayee, MD, Ashok Leyland indicates that his company may have encountered some tough times lately, but that there are a lot of positives in store.

How would you analyse the recent tough period for Ashok Leyland? What learnings have been derived from this experience? The fundamental fact is that the industry downturn affected MHCVs more than LCVs. And, we were hit because we currently only operate in the MHCV space. Also, investments in the pipeline were made on the basis of confidence about the future, but sadly, October 2008 forced a deferral of investment actions. The other challenging aspect for us was that our strong market namely the South suffered because export-oriented industries like textiles and leather declined sharply. On the other hand, our weaker market - the East - did not decline very much. We are addressing this situation by increasing our distribution network in that region. We now have an instrument for direct action in Gulf Ashley Motors which operates as our dealership in the region. Coming to other aspects, our inventory management during the crisis could have been better. In September 2008, there was a long pipeline of inventory with dealers. We tried to reduce inventory by resorting

110 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

to drastic production cuts. But, the inventory backlog remained until the first quarter of this fiscal when recovery started to happen. In order to shore up our inventory management, we are strengthening our demand forecast system, both at the company and retail levels. In this regard, we have been making sizeable investments in IT infrastructure over the last two years. Looking at the business-wide picture, our upcoming foray into LCVs and Construction Equipment will make us less vulnerable to cyclical downswings in the MHCV market.

launch these next generation trucks in 2010. On this subject, I would like to clarify that the Unitruck range is not just meant for the premium end of the market. It is just as capable of meeting the needs of the value segment. We are looking at modular aggregates. For instance, between the HSeries and the Neptune range, we have engines in the 90-360HP range. Beyond this, we have the option of sourcing larger engines from independent engine suppliers. We are open to the idea of leasing to promote sales of this range. We have had success with this finance model in the past. Matters will be greatly helped, once we get a nod from the RBI for our captive financing outfit. Coming to 16-tonners, it will be premature to write their obituary. During the


How is the Unitruck range coming along? Do offerings like these signal the demise of the traditional 16-tonne segment? The project is well on track and we should

Interview Sridhar Chari

‘The LCV and CE businesses will make us less vulnerable to cyclical downswings in the MHCV market.’


The ALL-Nissan JV is on track to come out with LCVs by 2011 (1). The new 3116 is doing well (2). Ashok Leyland’s ultra-low floor DTC buses (above).

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 111

interview / R. Seshasayee

R. Seshasayee / Interview Sales of the Avia range have been hit by the slowdown in Europe.

patterns and road conditions, such buses have considerable unexplored potential in urban transport. As such, we are talking to some STUs. Hopefully, we can make some headway, once the distraction with JNNURM bus specifications wears away. On an overall basis, and as compared to last year, the bus market will be better this year. We expect to see a spurt in bus sales in the last quarter of this year.

This 4938 tractor seen during the Auto Expo is a sign of what Ashok Leyland will put out as part of the Unitruck range.

slowdown, while the sales of tractor trailers dropped, that of 16-tonners went up. In the light of factors like poor roads and overpopulation of ageing vehicles that ply short distances, freight rates are considerably low. In this scenario, the 16-tonner remains a viable proposition. Having said

that, the graduation to trucks with better power to weight ratios will occur as road infrastructure improves. What is Ashok Leyland’s strategy on the ultra-low floor bus front? Are the DTC deliveries progressing on

Backhoes and wheeled loaders are first up for launch by the Ashok Leyland - John Deere JV.

112 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

schedule? A portion of our ultra-low floor bus seen in Delhi is of Chinese origin (sourced from Beiqi Foton). But, there is also a considerable localisation effort underway. Progressively, we will see more components/ features as seen in the iBus concept being deployed in such ultra-low floor buses. In terms of the DTC order, the challenge is to meet stringent specifications and laboratory test requirements. We have now resolved these teething problems and will start supplies of the buses this month. The complete delivery of 875 buses will occur by February 2010. Is there room for offerings like double-deckers and vestibule buses in the urban landscape? We are the only Indian manufacturer of double-decker buses and the first one to have come up with vestibule buses. There is also considerable expertise at Ashok Leyland, when it comes to developing new versions of vestibule buses. We believe that under certain traffic

Please offer us an update on ALL’s upcoming foray into the construction equipment business. On the back of this move, do you see a conflict of interest for your construction equipment aggregates business? Under our JV with John Deere, the backhoes and wheel loaders will come in first. An announcement on their specifications will be made later this year. Both these products to be rolled out in 2010 will initially have some imported components but will soon be completely localised. The excavators on the other hand, may be imported for some time to come. We will bring in some very good products, so we should claim significant market share. We do not see any conflict of interest with our construction equipment ag-

gregates business. In the CV world, such things are commonplace. Many global auto companies regularly supply engines and other aggregates to competitors. Is the outlook similarly bullish on the LCV business? Starting 2011, we will bring in both the cargo and passenger versions of the 1.25 tonner Nissan Atlas LCV. The big picture is that within the 1.25 - 6 tonne bracket, the ALL-Nissan JV will introduce the whole range, including cargo, passenger vehicles and panel vans over a 3-4 year horizon. The initial capacity for the venture will be 70,000 units per annum. We should achieve sales of 70,000 units per annum, 3-4 years from the launch. Capacity can be scaled up to 1,00,000 units based on demand. As soon as we get land from the Tamil Nadu government, we will set up a dedicated manufacturing facility for the JV. What is the roadmap for the Avia range, considering that the European CV market is depressed? The downturn in Europe came at a wrong time for Avia. The products had just begun to receive positive reviews from European markets. We are ready for Euro IV and be-

The Avion airport tarmac coaches.

ginning to move to Euro V norms. It is true that the Avia range is more suited to the needs of developed markets. Until the European market revives, we are targeting some second hemisphere markets. But the relieving factor for us is that we do not need to invest very much in Avia. The powertrain is outsourced and considerable cost, such as that on manpower has been reduced without compromising on product quality. Finally, what is your outlook for the CV industry and also for Ashok Leyland over a 12-18 month horizon? Growth in the CV industry is linked to that of the overall economy. As such, I expect the CV industry to end in positive territory this year and see at least 6-7 percent growth in 2010-11. As regards a longer term picture, we need to wait for the US and European markets to recover completely in about 18 months from now. Within India, growth in the CV sector will be influenced by interest rates, which may go up. So far as Ashok Leyland is concerned, we are working to recover lost market share. We are already meeting with success on this front. Recently launched MAV products like the 3116 are doing well. We are confident of ending in positive territory this year. ■ october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 113


ravi pisharody

ravi pisharody / Interview

Ravi Pisharody, President, Commercial Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors, states that Tata Motors has been relentless in strengthening its vice-like grip on the CV industry even amidst the slowdown.

Tata Motors seems to have emerged stronger than before during the slowdown. Your comments? Our MHCV sales have surely come back strongly in July and August on the back of revival in industrial production and infrastructure spending. But, our sales performance is still in contrast to an overall YoY decline in the MHCV segment for the industry. As a result, we have been able to increase our MHCV market share by 5-6 percentage points to touch 70 percent now. Some of our products like the 2516, 3118, 3516 and the 4018 are doing very well. To offer better value to our customers, we are also embarking on a radialisation exercise. By, the end of this year, we expect to have a significant portion of our trucks and buses being radialised. We are doing this despite initial customer resistance to the higher prices and shortage of radial capacity from domestic tyre makers. On the LCV front, we were already beginning to show YoY growth by April and now growth has really picked up – not

only in the Ace but also in the 4 tonne segment. It only shows that customers were always there, they returned as soon as the finance returned. In addition to this, the buses have also got a boost under the JNNURM. On an overall basis, we did well, because of the reduction in inventory levels. Block closures at plants helped bring down trade inventory to a healthy 17-18 days, facilitating a new cycle of production and sales. In effect, the slowdown cleared the inventory pipeline, after a buildup during the boom period that lasted 5-6 years. But inventory management across the rest of the industry

The fully built Tata Starbus school buses have done well during the school season.

h a s not been so efficient. What is the latest on the World Truck range? After a period of trials and driver training, the 4028 tractor has begun to be sold since September. It will be followed by either the 4928 or 4938 tractor and the 3138 deep

The 4028 tractor, part of the new World Truck range will be launched this year along with three other siblings.

Interview Sridhar Chari

‘We now have a 70 percent market share in MHCVs’ 114 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 115

interview / ravi pisharody

ravi pisharody / Interview

instance, in Tamil Nadu, the Ace Magic now sells as much as 85-90 percent of three-wheelers sold in that state. We have also provided a CNG option on the Magic. That is selling well in markets such as Delhi and Gujarat. The World LCV project is proceeding on track. They will be launched by 2011. Without revealing too much in terms of their specifics, I can say that the World LCV project will be that to LCVs as the World Truck is to MHCVs.

The 3118, an 8x2 rigid has grown in popularity thanks to the innovative ‘lift axle’.

mining tipper. Another truck could be added to this pack this year. The prices have not been disclosed, but in order to make the cost of acquisition lower, we are talk-

ing to financers to offer extended finance periods. No sales targets have been set, but numbers will not be too high this year. But, we are sure that the high to midThe Ace Magic now sells to the tune of 5,000 units per month.

116 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

dle end of our current portfolio of heavy trucks will migrate to the World Truck in the medium term. The trucks at the lower end such as the 1613 will however continue to have longer relevance in certain markets. How are the Ace and its stablemates doing? Is the World LCV project shaping up well? We are currently doing 9,000-10,000 Tata Ace vehicles every month. The one-tonner has also been launched now. It should add to our export volumes. That product is well suited to meet the needs of more evolved markets. As regards speculation on a 0.5 tonne vehicle being developed on the Ace platform, I have no comments to offer. The Ace Magic has been another success story. We are now touching 5,000 units each month. This number can only grow, considering the huge potential in the passenger three-wheeler market. For

How is the bus market looking like? Are your deliveries for the DTC order on track? The JNNURM stimulus has helped increase our market share in the 9 tonne and above segment. We now have 55 percent as opposed to 43 percent earlier. We are on track to supply the 1,625 DTC buses by Feb 2010. In reality, there is no capacity crunch leading to a departure from pre-agreed delivery schedules. Our Lucknow plant is fully ramped up and in the midst of production. The real reason for the delay was an issue in the startup of manufacturing operations. We have had to comply with very elaborate laboratory testing and certification procedures for every component as per DTC specifications. All concerns about safety are not true either. We have already supplied 650 buses and only one bus has been involved in a fire incident. That too was on account of electricals. We have received a further order of 1,300-1,400 DTC specifi-

This intercity Globus coach built by Tata Motors’ subsidiary takes the middle ground in the price – specification equation.

cation buses from other states under the JNNURM. Is the Tata Marcopolo plant at Dharwad being ramped up on schedule? The envisaged capacity at Dharwad is 30,000 buses. But our first target is to have a capacity of 15,000 buses. Currently, we are at the intermediary phase. But the ramp up has been very fast – the fastest ever for Marco Polo. From no production in January, we have reached a level of 750-800

buses per month in July. We want to move into the era of specialised bus chassis and fully built buses. The Dharwad plant has been making fully built 8-9 tonner buses. They have received a huge vote from the school bus segment, with a school in Vizag ordering for 80 buses. We also expect to bag orders for the LCVs as feeder buses for metro and BRTS projects in various cities. The Dharwad plant can also make DTC specification buses. How close are you to putting out a hybrid bus? I cannot give you a time frame, but we are working on two hybrid bus models – to account for diesel and CNG fuel options.

The 2516, a 6x2 rigid is another star performer for Tata Motors.

What is your outlook for this year? About 60 percent of truck sales happen in the October to March period. Add to this, buying in the lead up to the extended depreciation benefits coming to an end. And that before the new Euro norms come into effect in April 2010. On a year to year basis, Tata Motors’ CV business as a whole should grow in the high single digits. Even our MHCV segment can expect to see YoY growth between 0-5 percent. But, it will be hard to predict, what happens after March 31, 2010. The JNNURM stimulus for buses may not continue. And we need to watch out how overall economic development pans out. ■ october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 117


Dr. Pawan Goenka

Dr. Pawan Goenka / Interview

Dr. Pawan Goenka, M&M Automotive Sector President and President SIAM, updates us on the upcoming Mahindra Navistar CV range, as well as the sub one-tonner. Interview Sridhar Chari

Contrary to most automakers M&M has had a good first quarter. To what, do you attribute this performance to? The growth has been fundamentally on account of a strong UV performance. While the Xylo has done well, it has not eaten into the markets of the Scorpio and the Bolero. The fresh numbers, helped increase our UV market share to 65 percent from 51 percent in 2008. Simultaneously, our market share in the pick up segment has also climbed to 85 percent. We have phased out the Maxx Maxi truck launched 4-5 years ago. Now, the Bolero Maxx Maxi truck a micro hybrid, has been launched at the upper end of the market. In a month or too, its sales should grow rapidly. We are looking at selling the Scorpio pickup in the US by the end of this year – this will add considerably to the current sales levels of 1,000 units per month. Is Mahindra Navistar Automotives Limited on track with its plans? Yes, we are pretty much on track. The first product is ready and will be launched in January 2010. The rest of the 9-49 tonne products will come out, in slightly more than a year from that time. The last to arrive will be the 9-11 tonners. We will also look at inter-city as well as city buses for launch during this period. We want to be relevant to a large section of the market. To that extent, we like to believe that we are a step ahead of the market (as opposed to being completely next generation). Within three years, we aim to have a double digit market share on

The Bolero Maxx Maxi Truck has introduced micro- hybrid technology into the world of pickups.

the 9-49 tonne market that is estimated to be at 2.5-3 lakh units. Has the localisation effort been successful at Chakan? The lead time for the entire MNAL rollout is short, since we have a modular platform. We made our own cab, rather than use a carry over from Navistar. It has different heights, widths and lengths to account for day, sleeper, and double sleeper options. The engines will also be made in India. We will start with a 7.2 litre, 6 cylinder engine that will have Euro III and IV compliance. This engine will have a range of power output options to be useful for more

than one truck. To start with, it will be 50 percent localised and going forward, we will localise it completely. Most other aggregates have been localised too. What is the schedule for the sub-one tonner’s launch? Is there room for a 0.5 tonne payload offering too? The sub-one tonne mini-truck will be ready by the end of January 2010. The larger picture is that all payload capacities above 1 tonne have been covered in our current portfolio. And, as for the 0.5 tonne space, we can only say that if any company can make four-wheelers at a price close to that of three-wheelers, such a product will be M&M’s sub-one tonner is also due in January 2010.

‘We want to be relevant to a large section of the market’ 118 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

The 9-49 tonne Mahindra Navistar range will be launched in January 2010.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 119

interview / Dr. Pawan Goenka

The Hyalfa in a 80:20 methanehydrogen mix should be ready by next year.

The Mahindra Tourister was the first mini-bus to feature a CRDi diesel.

very popular indeed. In terms of production, we will start with 2,000-2,500 vehicles per month and gradually ramp up to 4,000 units. The market, currently at 9,000-10,000 units should go up to 12,000-13,000 units, with our entry. So, we expect to get a 25 percent market share. However, we believe that despite accounting for the growing popularity of mini-trucks, three-wheelers will disappear. They will still be required on narrow and congested roads. How is the three-wheeler market faring? Are you close to commercialising the hydrogen threewheeler? We are doing 3,800 three-wheelers per month. Our target was to do 5,000-6,000 units, but at one stage during the last few months, the market had crashed to a level of 3,000 units. That said, we have a 1213 percent share in the three wheeler segment and come in at number three. While, the 0.75 tonne Champion CNG sells only in Delhi, the bulk of our volumes come from the Alpha. We are working on two hydrogen three-wheelers. The three-wheeler running on an 80:20 Methane – Hydrogen mix will be ready next year. But it is still unviable, as the price of hydrogen is Rs 250 per kg. We want it to come to a level of Rs 70 to be viable. On the other hand, the pure 120 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

hydrogen three-wheeler will take 3 years. But that will be a technology demonstrator since the infrastructure to support such a product is not ready as yet. Finally, as President of SIAM, what is your take on the short term and long term scenario for the Indian CV industry? While there is relief at CV sales reviving, all is not well. The buying of buses under JNNURM has not yet materialised as expected. Freight movement has also not picked up considerably, though we expect an improvement over the next six months. In order to remedy this scenario, the cash for clunkers is a good move. But, the ques-

After suffering a dip during the slowdown, the Alfa is back on track to sales levels of 4,000 units per month.

tion to be asked is, will incentivising the disposal of old trucks lead to only a short term spurt in new truck sales? And, therefore, will future sales suffer? The bird’s eye picture of the CV industry though is more comforting. Over the last 15 years, the CV market has been volatile, but seen from a 50 year perspective, a 56 percent growth rate has been witnessed. That is the rate, we should expect over a 10 year horizon. In this context, an interesting trend will come into play. As newer and bigger trucks replace the older and smaller trucks, we may see absolute sales come down, but margins will improve. ■


Ravi Chopra

Ravi Chopra / Interview

Ravi Chopra, CMD, Piaggio Vehicles Private Limited reveals a grand strategy to introduce 0.5-1.5 tonne payload mini trucks. He also indicates that, a critical product portfolio gap will be bridged with the imminent arrival of a petrol threewheeler. Interview Sridhar Chari

‘We are working on a 0.5 - tonne payload mini truck’ 122 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

A rather dramatic recovery seems to have been recorded by Piaggio in the three-wheeler arena. Your comments… In the last fiscal, the three-wheeler industry declined by 8 percent, while Piaggio managed to get away with just a 2 percent shortfall in sales. From April onwards, we have started to see signs of recovery. That trend accelerated dramatically from July onwards, with the result that August has turned out to be our best month ever as sales reached 16,700 units. But for a capacity shortage with some of our vendors, we can easily exceed that in September. In contrast to these performances, we sold less than 10,000 three-wheelers in January 2009. It must be said that our strong performance was not only because of the revival in the market. We have snatched market share from competition on account of better customisation and market penetration. But, the broad reality is that irrespective of the existence of a slowdown, there will always be a robust market for three-wheelers. Thus far, the market was only in urban or semi-urban areas. But, as more rural roads start to be built and the retail sector opens up, we are seeing hitherto untapped areas opening up. Therefore, once the finance

Piaggio targets to sell 1,000 units of the Ape Truk Plus within 2 months of the launch.

improved, people started to buy again. The three-wheeler is very essential on India’s narrow and poor quality roads. It is not going away until the next 10-15 years. What is happening on the fourwheeler side at Piaggio? We have recently introduced the 1 tonne Having resolved the initial technical issues, the Ape Truk is starting to see numbers grow.

payload Ape Truk Plus. The vehicles are been taken to customers for feedback. We expect to put out 1,000 of these fourwheelers by the end of this month. The offering has been priced (Rs 2,76,000, exshowroom Chennai) on par with the current offering in this segment. To give you a wider perspective, the single cylinder (payload 865 kg) Ape Truk is currently doing 800-1,000 units each month. This is below our initially targeted volumes of 1,500-2,000 units. There is a background to this story. When we first launched the product last year, it created quite a stir, because it could carry much more payload at lower costs. But, we faced a setback, with the vehicle’s powertrain. Having now resolved those issues, we are ready for better performance. Are there any thoughts of extending the Ape Truk platform in either direction of the existing products? Yes. The buzz around the 0.5 tonne payload mini-truck segment is getting stronger, with a few players planning to enter it. We are also working on such a mini truck, which should come out quite soon. This product will be competitively priced. We also have plans to put out a 1.4-1.5 tonne payload four-wheeler by 2011. We may use our own engines for this product. october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 123

interview / Ravi Chopra

Ravi Chopra / Interview

Sales of the Piaggio Ape three-wheeler cargo version went up to 4,500 units in July from 2,700 units in January.

portfolio? Globally, Piaggio has some excellent petrol engines. But, both the cost and time needed to localise such engines do not gel with the mass market characteristics of petrol passenger three-wheelers. Therefore, we embarked on an extensive search for low-cost yet efficient petrol engines. And that exercise has now been successful. Piaggio’s R&D has collaborated with the supplier to upgrade the engine to BS III compliance. The vehicle’s homologation has been completed. It will undergo tests for a few months now. By next year, we will be ready to attack the market with this product. Simultaneously, we are also developing CNG and LPG fuel options on this three-wheeler. So next year, these options will also be available along with the petrol. It is our belief that the petrol (and petrol based CNG and LPG) three-wheeler market in India is very large – to the tune of 8,000-10,000 units. What is interesting is that sigma all export markets is equal in size to the domestic market. Thus far, this huge market has been catered to by just one player. We also want to claim our fair share of this pie. How is the ‘Ape Life’ used vehicles business shaping up?

Application engineering has been Piaggio’s strong point. This is a panel van on the Ape Truk platform.

The potential in the used vehicle business is definitely huge. We have a population of 8,00,000 three-wheelers. Now, assuming that these vehicles have a life of 8-10 years and factoring fresh sales in this period, there is a population of at least 2,00,000 vehicles that are ripe for an upgrade. Under the Ape Life programme, we intend to have exclusive outlets for used vehicles across all major districts. These outlets will be owned by our existing dealA flat-bed version of the mini-truck.

The passenger version has not done badly either with sales went up from 7,200 units in Jan to 12,300 in August.

What is the status on the engines factory at Baramati? How will it tiein with Piaggio’s product strategy? The investments in the plant are nearly complete. We should be ready to put out the first engines by April 2010. We are working on two diesel engines; a naturally aspirated 1-litre and 1.2 litre turbo charged & intercooled engine. Both these engines will sequentially be BS IV and V compliant. Come 2010 and we have the opportu124 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

The state-of-the-art Baramati plant.

nity to use the 1-litre engine for the Ape Truk Plus to meet BS IV norms. This 2526 HP engine will be at least as fuel efficient as the currently outsourced BS III compliant 17 HP engine. The 1.2 litre engine is very powerful. The 55-60 HP engine is meant to be deployed on the 1.4-1.5 tonne payload vehicle. The Euro IV and V versions of these engines will be exported back to our parent company.

The diesel engines will come in next year. However, if things go according to plan, we will start making two-wheeler petrol engines at the plant. The engines will go to the Vespa plants in Vietnam and Italy. Will Piaggio also make petrol engines at Baramati for the proposed petrol three-wheeler? What is the progress on filling this gap in your product

ers. This business will consist of the acquisition of old vehicles, their refurbishment and the offer of new vehicles. Therefore, the customers have the choice of opting for both refurbished and new vehicles. We are piloting this idea in about 810 locations to drive home the concept. The important aspect to this whole process is that the customer must benefit and the dealer should make money. This is not difficult, since our products command a Rs 55,000-60,000 resale value, significantly more than that of competition. To inspire customer confidence, we also plan to offer warranties on our refurbished vehicles. These warranty periods could be as high as 10 months – or half the extended warranty on our new products. Do you therefore feel an even greater need to have a captive finance outfit now? It is not that we cannot survive without a captive financing outfit. But having one will surely be an advantage when almost all our competitors have such finance arms. The issue is that Piaggio does not have the wherewithal to set up such an arm on its own. Now, in the quest for a partner, we find that the larger NBFCs do not want to align with just one company, while the smaller ones who are willing to work with us, do not quite have the network to effectively meet our needs. ■


Vipin sondhi

Vipin sondhi / Interview

How would you assess JCB’s performance in 2008 and 2009? In 2008, we degrew 15-17 percent over 2007, which incidentally was a fantastic year. In fact, even the first quarter of 2008, was a positive spillover of 2007. Things only went bad in the last quarter of 2008. And, since we follow a calendar year, JCB has had to reckon with the poor Jan-March 2009 period too. Therefore, we may see a 15-17 percent

Vipin Sondhi, MD and CEO, JCB India tells us that JCB will dig deep in the short term. Indications are that the upside is not very far away. Interview Sridhar Chari

‘We will launch an upgraded version of our 8-tonne excavator’ 126 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

JCB hopes to retain its 75 percent market share in the backhoe segment, despite a subdued forecast for this year.

volume decline in 2009 too. On the positive side, we have seen signs of recovery since May 2009. At the end of May, we got a hold over inventory and have been producing cautiously since then. Our current inventory levels are apt in keeping with market conditions. We have retained our 75 percent market share in backhoes for the first eight months of this year and should continue to do so for the rest of the year as well. We are taking each quarter as it comes, while managing costs and inventory. So, if in 2010, the market grows by 10-15 percent, we will be ready for it.

The JS 80 represents a good opportunity for backhoe operators to shift to excavators.

Do you see an immediate benefit coming through the government’s ambitious road building programme? The government surely has an ambitious programme to construct roads. But, the proof of the pudding will be in seeing; exactly how much is being spent on projects. If things pan out as expected, we may see a positive impact of this road building effort in the first quarter of 2010. The benefits will be across the board for us. Backhoes, excavators and compactors are all used at varying stages of road building. While, we will have a chance to improve upon our good starting numbers in compactors, the excavator segment should also receive a fillip. We have a 7-8 percent share in this 9,100 units market. After staying flat in 2008, it could decline by 10-15 percent in 2009.

Are there any thoughts of introducing bigger excavators to capitalise on such opportunities? Before, proceeding to launch our bigger excavators, we want to first ensure the success of the products that are already on the ground. In order to add further value, we will launch an upgraded version of our 8 tonne excavator during Excon 2010. The heavy duty version of our 20 tonner has already been launched. Related to excavators are our wheeled loaders. But, they have a different growth pattern. The loaders mainly operate in the coal mining sector, which has been doing pretty well. As a result, sales have dropped less steeply than other construction equipment. We have a 28 percent share in this segment, which could end 15-20 percent down this year, at 1,600 units. Has there been any traction with respect

Localisation of the skid steers may help lower their prices.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 127

interview / Vipin sondhi

to skid steer sales? We do more than 100 skid steers every year to applications such as urban waste management. There are also interesting possibilities with the defence sector. The growth potential is very much there, albeit from a low base. The main issue is that our skid steer is a completely imported product and localisation is tied to volumes. So, we will persevere with this product. You have recently launched the LIFTALL crane and have had the LOADALL Telehandler for a while now. Do you see greater scope for such material handling equipment? The Liftall 12153 is a very promising product that is 100 percent localised. The 12 tonne pick and carry crane has the best in class top speed of 30kmph, as also superior operator comfort. The wider wheel base also affords greater stability. What is most significant about the product is that it can handle the fourth container stacked in a 1+3 arrangement. On the other hand, the Loadall Telehandler that we have showcased is a concept. It can only succeed, if there is palletisation of cargo. The driver for such a product will be the advent of foreign contractors and developers who will use advanced material handling equipment in line with their own evolved safety and operating parameters. But, this development will only pan out over a 4-5 year horizon.

How are the Ballabgarh and Talegaon plants coping with the slowdown? The Ballabgarh plant now has a capacity to make 100 backhoes a day, compared to 50 earlier. Of course we are not utilising the full capacity now. But, the expansion still remains a good decision. Demand for back-

The wheel loaders have not been as badly hit as excavators, thanks to decent business from the mines.

hoes in India as also in export markets should grow over the next 18-36 months. On the latter front, we are not only looking at SAARC countries but also eventually at markets like the Middle East and South Africa. At Talegaon, the capacity is quite flexible. We can easily tweak it depending upon the demand for aggregates at our mother plants or Ballabgarh. Are you considering setting up a captive financing outfit? We are not discussing a captive financing outfit when there is instability in financial markets. Instead, we have recently

Sales of compactors should benefit from the hastened road building activity.

128 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

tied up with 12 nationalised banks to offer financing support to customers in their geographical areas of strength. We also have good relationships with many NBFCs. Finally, how does JCB India see itself, in the light of two factors (a) its growing importance for the parent company and (b) the entry of several new players in its home turf? In terms of total machines sold JCB has been No.3 globally for the last two years. And, India now constitutes 25-27 percent of global volumes. We accept this with a great sense of opportunity and responsibility. Coming to the second aspect, many new players will enter the market, as they did over the last 6 years. But, we have been around for 30 years now. The effort will be to continue doing our best. Inventory and producThe Liftall pick and carry cranes will boost JCBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presence in the material handling segment.

tion are being carefully watched. The number of retail outlets has gone upto 350 now and this will soon be increased even further. We are going deeper into rural India and training an increasing number of operators. Along the way, greater localisation and quality improvement is a constant effort. â&#x2013;


Siddhartha Lal

Siddhartha Lal / Interview

VECV MD and CEO, Siddhartha Lal says that quiet efficiencies and intelligent product development are key to VECV holding its own during trying times. Interview Sridhar Chari

‘The target is to a reach 15 percent share over the next 5 years’ 130 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

In your view, is the recovery seen in July and August sustainable? We are proud of the fact that Volvo ushered in fully-built trucks in India. They were a game changer in a market that had until then not seen world-class offerings. Volvo brought in a high performing product that also reflected a concern for the environment. We are seeing definite signs of improvement in terms of customer demand, finance availability as well as inventory holdings. Correspondingly, the pileup of repossessed vehicles with financers has also come down. The improvement in MHCV sales has meant that the market is ‘only’ 10 percent now as opposed to 70 percent earlier. But, it is tough to say if this recovery is for the long term. We have not seen a full recovery as yet – so there may yet be some volatility left in the market. The following few months can be expected to take up the cue thrown up by July. The current festive season and of course, the lead up to the end of the extended depreciation benefits has seen the momentum continuing until the end of September. We should then see a strong second half performance (Eicher follows a calendar year). The Eicher branded trucks have been closing the last few months on volumes of 2,000-

VECV has a strong shout in the school bus segment.

2,500 trucks each month. The Volvo Trucks brand adds another 80-90 units per month. This is an improvement over numbers seen in the poor first half. But, it remains to be seen if this uptake in sales will be at the cost of sales over the next few months.

The 35.31, 8x2 rigid boasts of twin steered axles.

How has VECV been trying to improve efficiencies during the slowdown? We have succeeded in living with the slowdown, on account of adherence to disciplined operational and strategic practices. For instance, we made a cut in our production immediately after the slowdown struck. Therefore, though, there was a sharp fall in production, the recovery was faster. At VECV, dealers and vendors benefited from faster cash flows, albeit on lower volumes. Inventory levels too, which are normally at 15-25 days, were also reduced to a third in keeping with market trends. In contrast to this, some other companies were slow to reduce output and instead chose to push inventory onto dealers. And that, resulted in superficially high sales

in the beginning and then a huge inventory later. On the strategic side, we prepared a strong balance sheet, in the aftermath of the alliance with Volvo in 2007-08. Those were boom times, but we foresaw the downward cycle kicking in very soon. We could not have guessed the magnitude of the slowdown – everyone expected flat sales. But still the preparations were in place. We repaid our loans, and did not borrow new money. That has allowed us to get the operating profits back on track. As positive fallout of this, we are investing in all the right areas such as infrastructure, quality and new product development. The kitty is Rs 95 crore in the immediate future, with more to come over the next few years. What is VECV’s HCV strategy going forward? Currently, we do 250-300 Eicher branded HCVs a month, in addition to the 80-90 Volvo branded ones. On the exports side, the heavy duty models are performing well. Adjacent markets in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have compensated for the crashing Middle East market. Against this background, we are creating certain benchmarks for HCVs. The target is to do 1,000 units a month within three years. This will give us a 10 percent market share. At this october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 131

interview / Siddhartha Lal

VECV’s buses were rollover norms compliant earlier than most competition.

level, we will have enough economies of scale to build a viable business. The target is to reach 15 percent share over the next 5 years. Talking of products, we already have the Terra 16, a 16 tonne 4x2 tipper. Now, we are looking at a 25 tonne 6x4 tipper for launch next year. As for an 8x4 offering, since such a product is already available under the Volvo brand, we are not developing one on the Eicher platform immediately. Similarly, our 49 tonne tractor has been put on the backburner, considering the presence of a Volvo branded product in that space. A 40 tonne tractor is already present in our portfolio. Coming to multiaxle trucks, we have recently rolled out the Eicher 35.31 8x2 to complement the popular Eicher 30.25 6x2. So there are not many gaps in our portfolio. To prepare for VECV’s future engine and drivetrain development needs, collaborative work is underway with Volvo Trucks as well as Nissan Diesel. What is the bus gameplan looking like? 132 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

Our new range of Skyline fully built buses has been appreciated for their design and features. We have received a strong vote of confidence from the school bus segment. Beyond this, we are developing a Rear Engined Semi Low Floor (650mm) bus to meet the needs of cities under JNNURM funding. This bus will be launched in 2010. This Euro III and IV compliant 12-metre bus will have CNG and diesel fuel options. We are not looking at ultra low floor buses just yet. On the intercity side, we have developed prototypes of a 12 metre bus. Some chassis have been supplied too. But, the launch of the fully built offering has been deferred for now in order to accord greater attention

to city buses. What is your view about the long term future of the LMCV market? Contrary to what many people feel, the LMCV market is not dying out. While such CVs may not be used for hub-hub transport, or even a hub-spoke mode, they are certainly relevant for a region to region model – at intervals of 300-400 km. India is still a much unorganised country, when it comes to an effective implementation of the hub and spoke model. To add to this, LMCVs will also benefit from city entry restrictions that are increasingly being imposed on HCVs. ■

The Terra 16 HDR tipper occupies an unique slot in the 16 - tonne tipper space.


Anirudh Bhuwalka

Anirudh Bhuwalka / Interview

It was a unique opportunity to catch up with Anirudh Bhuwalka, MD and CEO, Asia MotorWorks, as well as President A. Ramasubramanian and Senior Vice President, RC Mangal. Judging from what we hear, AMW seems to have arrived at an inflection point.

From a rather dramatic start in 2006, you suddenly have had brakes applied to a promising story. How would you look back at that journey? Anirudh Bhuwalka: Frankly, we did not time an entry during the boom time of 2006. It was only that our efforts since 2003 bore fruit at that juncture. We did not come with any automotive pedigree, but, we did bring in some fresh perspective and thinking, which was needed at that time. Our products were forward looking, in terms of aesthetics, driver comfort, reliability and durability. Along the way, we faced challenges with respect to distribution and market access. But, we soldiered on and the efforts paid off. The result is that there is a population of 7,500 AMW trucks in the market, when several foreign players have been able to muster far lower numbers. Financially our targets have been achieved two years ago and therefore, we have not been faced by any difficulties. We have enough capacity to meet future demand too. But, having said that, the reality of the slowdown is well upon us. It was quite a shock to wake up on October 11 and discover that demand has dried out. Like

RC Managal wants to see planned infrastructure projects getting off the drawing board

most other players, we were saddled with huge inventory. And all expansion plans in the pipeline were jettisoned. We took this situation to be a blessing in disguise. We reorganised ourselves completely, and cleaned up the organisation, along with unfinished forward looking projects. One of the things we did not change was servicing customers who were in a difficult situation themselves. Most of their payments had

A. Ramasubramanian says that the only long-term way to boost the CV industry is to make trucking more profitable for fleet operators.

been delayed, but they still needed to keep their trucks up and running. Hopefully, the results of such focus and efforts should be visible in the second half of this year. In this context, how are you aligning your product portfolio? Is there room for expansion? Bhuwalka: We have rigid haulers, tippers and tractor-trailers in our portfolio.

Interview Sridhar Chari

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;A company like ours will eventually look at a strategic partnershipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 134 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

As with other 49-tonne tractors, sales of the 4923 tractor have suffered because of an increase in overloading.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 135

interview / anirudh bhuwalka

anirudh bhuwalka / Interview

add value to the customer. What is the outlook for this year? A Ramasubramanian: If you look at the HCV segment in which we operate, it is down 45 percent on a year to year basis. That decline has now slowed to 30 percent in the last three months. So, there is recovery on the back of a stabilising economy. But, even if we have a great second half, I would expect that we will still end this year, slightly in the negative. The recovery may be slightly impact by the weak monsoon.

While overall tractor sales may be down, there is still a good niche for specialised applications like fuel tankers.

Considering the huge potential in the mining segment, we are focussing more on tippers. We offer fully-built products in this segment. Beyond the products already in our portfolio, there is potential to enter the sub 25-tonne market, at some time in the future. Rajesh Mangal: We will also have to look at the haulage segment with the 31 tonne 8x2 truck that we had showcased during the 2008 Auto Expo. This will help us target the road construction segment, For the moment, buses are off the radar for AMW.

136 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

in which we have no significant presence currently. At the moment, there are no thoughts on entering the 8x4 tipper segment. The deep mining market is as yet very niche and demands very powerful engines and other aggregates. What is the latest update on the Pug mini-truck and the bus project? Bhuwalka: We are working on the Pug and should come out with it sometime soon. The mini-truck market is very crowded and competitive, so we need to get our strategy right. It must also be remembered that the Pug is based on a Chinese platform. And in China, the fuel of choice is petrol. Therefore, we need to put some work on getting the Pug to be compatible with diesel. On the other

hand, the bus project has been deferred for the time being. We would first want to stabilise our truck business. How would you respond to speculation on AMW seeking to enter into a strategic partnership with a foreign CV maker? Bhuwalka: A company like ours will eventually have to look at a strategic partnership. Clearly, if we want to become a full breadth player, it will take time, resources and bandwidth. As such, sooner or later, there, will be a partner. It is too early to elaborate on matters like who will hold the controlling stake or other such operating parameters. But otherwise, is AMW self-sufficient when it comes to technology? Bhuwalka: We follow the North American model of sourcing the best aggregates and putting together the truck. There is ample assurance of such aggregates being available to meet future needs too. So, there is no need for us to reinvent the wheel. We will only get into the manufacture of things, like tipper bodies, which

Bhuwalka: But on an overall basis, I must add that the broad trends are positive. The real estate sector is starting to show the first signs of picking up on the back of retail sector growth. Low cost housing should further boost demand for cement. The road sector looks promising too on account of intent from the government. Similarly, the outlook for steel is positive for the next two quarters. And mining, though down in the monsoons, clearly has long term potential. What measures can government and industry take to revive the CV industry? Bhuwalka: The cash for clunkers idea

The Pug will come out ‘soon’. AMW is working on tweaking the Chinese ‘petrol’ platform to a diesel.

to stimulate demand is a brilliant idea from both an environmental and demand standpoint. Secondly, there must be stringent enforcement of overloading norms. Thirdly, finance should become easier. Many financers are still shy of lending. Merely creating a special fund for them will not be enough. The government must actually assure them of support during difficult times. Finally, if infrastructure receives due atThe 2518 6x4 tipper has good potential thanks to India’s rapidly growing mining sector.

tention, demand will automatically come. Mangal: Continuing from what Mr. Bhuwalka said, I would say that there is yet no clarity on the implementation schedule of various infrastructure projects. Secondly, even the special purpose finance vehicle for NBFCs is as yet only on paper. Without any concrete moves at either end, demand creation will be very hard. Even innovations from the manufacturer’s side like leasing trucks will also be difficult. Somebody has to hold the truck for 3-4 years and guarantee recovery of money through the life of the truck! Ramasubramanian: The best long way to revive the industry is to modernise it and make it profitable for the fleet operator to own and run trucks. The industry is populated by single truck owners. However, efforts to consolidate and corporatise the industry have been resisted. Secondly, the government must build better roads and avoid periodic harassment of trucks through time and cost barriers such as tolls, octrois and taxes. If these two changes are effected, fleet operators will be in a position to buy higher end trucks that promise lower cost per tonne kilometre figures. Truck makers will then be in a position to shift focus from volumes to profitability. ■ october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 137


akash passey

akash passey / Interview

Akash Passey, MD, Volvo Buses India Pvt. Ltd. is happy with the growing demand for city buses. But, he is not sure that this momentum will extend into next year. Interview Sridhar Chari

Has this year been good for Volvo in the light of demand from JNNURM funded urban transport projects? The year 2007 was very challenging for Volvo Buses. Therefore, 2008 with volumes of 422 units came as a huge relief. On top of this, we are expecting an improvement of 50 percent this year. This is significantly due to the government’s incentives to the urban transport undertakings in order for them to buy city buses. We believe that 60-70 percent of our bus sales this year will happen from the city segment. (The contribution from city buses was only 50 percent last year). We are getting orders from cities like Bangalore, Mysore, Cochin, Navi Mumbai, Trivandrum and Kolkotta as well a couple of cities in North India, which are in the pipeline. The individual order batch sizes range from 20-200 units. How long do you expect this momentum from city bus sales to last? We will deliver all our buses by the first quarter of

calendar year 2010. Therefore, there will be a spillover of the current year’s orders into the next year too. But having said that, the rest of next year may not rake in such volumes. Some 12,000-15,000 buses are supposed to be supplied to various urban transport undertakings this year. But that may not happen as per schedule. Volvo Buses is the only company to deliver buses on time. In this scenario, the government may be loathe to offer a second stimulus package to incentivise the acquisition of buses. How is the intercity segment doing for your company? It is heartening that private bus customers are coming back to buy intercity buses. And they are making bulk purchases. This is happening across Southern and Western India. The sentiment is back, finance is seen to be easier, though interest rates have not dropped significantly. Secondly, the margin money on loans

The intercity segment may have come down as a component of total bus sales, but demand is still improving

has come down to 15 percent from 30 percent earlier. Interestingly, our multi axle bus is also doing well. Most of our customers at least in the South have upgraded to this product. We expect to do 50-100 units next year. How are capacities aligned currently? Considering that we have had to ramp up from production cuts during the slowdown, our current capacity of 600 buses is reasonable. Should there be demand next year, we can get upto 1,000 buses next year. That, as I said may be unlikely, given the uncertainty over demand for city buses and the larger economic scenario. We have also had to contend with a slowdown in our exports, which were targeted to deliver 25 percent of our sales by 2010. Are there any new products in the pipeline – multiaxle city

‘We are coming out with a sleeper coach’ 138 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

On account of JNNURM-led demand for city buses, they are likely to consitute 6070 percent of the 600-650 buses expected to be sold by Volvo this year.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 139

interview / akash passey

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The multi-axle bus is not faring too badly either. Volvo expects to sell 50-100 units this year.

buses or even a lower cost bus? I cannot make a specific comment on multiaxle/High Capacity City Buses, except that they are very much on our wish list. And, it is too early to talk about the proposed lower cost bus – since it is still on the drawing board. But, I can reveal that, we are coming out with a sleeper coach either by the end ITS4, Volvo’s telematics solution is being piloted in Bangalore. It may soon extend to Navi Mumbai.

140 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

of this year or early next year. They will be priced slightly higher than the seater buses. Considering the potential for these buses in Western and Southern India, we are looking at volumes of 50 units for next year. Is a revision of prices on the cards? The economy crashed last year. Surely, the input costs such as sheet metal has come down. But, it is to be remembered that the imported content in our buses ranges from 60-70 percent. Now, the slowdown has hit the global suppliers of these aggregates very hard. Hence, they have increased prices to account for their huge fixed

costs. We have had to bear the burden of these costs, but, so far have not been able to pass them on to our customers due to the slowdown. The other thing to be understood is that we are getting back to an inflationary economy, and even local raw material prices may rise again. Therefore, we may have to increase prices next year. How are efforts to broaden revenue streams progressing? Our telematics systems are undergoing trials with the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC). Following this, we are looking at cities like Navi Mumbai. It is our target to get 50 percent of our revenues from softer avenues by 2015. There is also an endeavour to look at the second hand bus market. There is a population of over 2,000 Volvo buses in India. Of these, 1,000 can be refurbished and resold. The challenge is to get our infrastructure upto scratch to aim for this market. ■

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Neeraj RS Kanwar

Neeraj RS Kanwar / Interview

led to the new identity. We are happy to report a positive feedback not just in India but also in Europe.

VBBV offers Apollo, a unique production base in Europe. CV radials could be made there too.

Neeraj R S Kanwar, MD, Apollo Tyres Ltd reveals ample ambitions in the CV radials space. But he says that this is not at the expense of bias tyres, OTR and farm radials. Interview Sridhar Chari

‘We want to be No.1 in CV radials’ 142 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

How do you assess the health of the CV tyre segment? Have the restrictions on the imports of Chinese radials helped? Surely there was a blip in CV sales from October 08 - Jan 09 – when they were down 70 percent but, since then, they have gradually stabilised. The improvement in July and August is there for all to see. The full effect of this improvement will be seen at a lag of three months for the tyre industry. Most tyre makers are operating at 95 percent capacity and many including Apollo have set up extra capacities. In recent times, Apollo has grown 1214 percent month on month. The volume growth in Q1 was 14 percent. Both the OE and the replacement market are doing well. Therefore, we are bullish on Q2 and even H2, so overall; we should see at least 14 percent volume growth this year. Margins have been better on account of low commodity prices and improvement in internal efficiencies. But prices are starting to rise again. The restriction on the import of Chinese truck and bus radials has proven to be oxygen for domestic tyre makers. During the Jan-March period, Chinese CV radial tyre imports had come down by 80 percent as numbers shrunk to 14,000 tyres a month. But, the same rose to 38,000 units during the first quarter of this fiscal. However, it must be noted that this figure includes imports of premium tyres on the part of MNC tyre makers too.

Offer us a background on how Apollo’s new corporate identity was conceived. We had been using the same brand for 30 years. It was time to change, especially as we have become an MNC now. With this in mind, we enlisted UK-based Saffron Consultants to undertake an exercise to come up with a new corporate identity. Starting 2007, they went through the entire organisation inside out to distill the essence of this company. That is what

How is Apollo progressing in its efforts to augment CV radial capacities? Commercial vehicle OEs are certainly radialising. Tata Motors predicts that 40 percent of its vehicles will be radialised over the next 2-3 years. Currently, the extent of radialisation in the CV sector is 12-13 percent. We see this level going up to 20 percent in the near future. As such, there is a strong need to add to capacities. But, the upswing in demand has been so sudden that most Indian tyre makers will need time to catch up. Apollo now makes 6,000-7,000 TBR radials a month compared with 1,000 earlier. Our radial capacity has gone up tenfold from 9,000 – 90,000 units. We will double this capacity very soon. The investment in the first phase has been Rs 1,500 crore. The work on the Chennai plant has been underway for the last 12 months – we will come out with the first CV radials in December. We are confident

The Regal range has struck just the right balance between quality and price.

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 143

interview / neeraj RS Kanwar

that with our twin brands - Regal and Apollo, the entire market will be targeted. While the Regal will be located in the mass market, the Apollo will aim for the premium segment. The aim is to be No.1 in CV radials.

How are you playing been trying to break into the the OTR market? OEM segment. We have A brand new line is behowever been selling tyres ing put up for OTR in the replacement marat Baroda to meet ket for the last 4-5 years BEMLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs. now. As with CV radiThe plan for the als, initially, it is tough Simultaneously, what is the view on first year is to get to convince farmers to the traditional bias tyre market? up to full capacity opt for the more exYet, looked at from a different perspec- at 10-12 tonnes pensive radials. But tive the bias tyre market will also stay for a day. But, there the benefits in terms of some time. While in the passenger car sec- is a longer holife and fuel efficiency tor, Maruti getting into radials transformed rizon for us to are there for all to see. the whole passenger, such an OEM push get into radial And, with bigger tracis unlikely to radialise the CV industry OTR. They will tors expected to come overnight. Considering our bad road con- come out only 3from OEMs, they will ditions, poor technology, old mindsets and 4 years from now. look out for farm radioverloading, bias tyres would continue to There is potential als. We are currently be demanded. They would remain relevant not only on the talking to a few of for the next 8 -10 years. Bias tyre sales will domestic side, but them. begin to plateau in 3-4 years and then also on the export gradually decline. front. The latAre the overseas For the moment, we see 5ter is on the markets recovering The Farmtrac has 10 percent volume growth one hand being at the same pace as become the first farm radial to receive an in bias tyres. But no new catered to by the in India? What are OEM mandate capacity is being added Chinese at very operations in South Africa besides de-bottlenecklow prices and by the and the Netherlands looking like? ing existing plants. MNCs on the other. But the Exports constitute about 15-16 percent But having said point is that Chinese quan- of our sales. In the recent past, bias tyre that, we will continue tity is not considered to be so exports were down. But now, they have with the strategy of seggood and the MNC prices are recovered. South Africa is in the grip of menting the market to on the higher side, so there is the slowdown. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s GDP contracted by 6 add more value. We have an opportunity for companies percent during the first quarter. Therefore, The XT100K is a recently launched the XTlike Apollo. margins were affected as they will be in cross ply tyre with an incredible life 100 K, a new cross ply tyre Q2. But the good news is that the volumes of 1,00,000 kms. that has a mileage, very close Apollo has recently achieved the are holding. to that of radials at 1,00,000 kilomedistinction of being the first Indian The acquisition of Dutch company tres. On the other hand, the price is closer tyre maker to achieve OE fitment of VBBV is only 4-5 months old. But the to that of bias tyres. There is huge demand farm radials. Your comments? early signs are positive. Sometime in the for this product for which we currently do The credit must go to both M&M and future, we will make CV radials in that not have enough capacity. Apollo. Over the past year or so, we have facility too. â&#x2013; The new plant coming up at Chennai.

144 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

The EnduRace tubeless radial is still someway from being adopted on a mass scale in India


A.S. Mehta

A.S. Mehta / Interview

A.S Mehta, Director, Marketing, JK Tyre has his plate full with radials and OTR. The aim is to retain market leadership in these high growth segments. Interview Sridhar Chari

What is your projection for the Indian CV tyre industry as a whole and the bias segment in specific? The tyre industry grew at 6-7 percent last year and should maintain the same rate this year. Our thought is that, irrespective of the slowdown, infrastructure spending will continue. This will increase the demand for CV and construction equipment radials. So far as cross ply tyres are concerned, it will grow at not more than 3-4 percent and become flat over the medium term. Over a 15 year horizon, we may see a 1015 percent decline in demand. But, we can continue making whatever the domestic as well as export market demand. We have hugely depreciated bias tyre manufacturing facilities, which can keep going even at 75-80 percent capacity utilisation. Being the market leader in CV radials, what is your outlook and strategy for this segment? The CV radial market is expected to grow to 1.5 million units this year, compared to 1.1 million units last year. The level of

radialisation, currently at 10 percent, will rise in the next six months In order to sustain our leadership in this segment; we have already invested Rs 315 crore. Another Rs 300 crore is going to be invested over the next 18 to 24 months. The second phase of investments will raise our capacity from the current 8 lakh CV radials per annum to 12 lakh units per annum. Currently, we are operating at 80-90 percent of radial capacity. Almost 100 fleets have been added to our customer roster last year. Most of them are from the truck side – in the 16-25 tonne bracket. This takes our total tally to 400 truck and bus fleets, with some of them being 100 percent radial. Organised customers can appreciate the value of fuel savings and longer life better. But, it was not all smooth sailing, low freight rates and irregular business had discouraged some customers from investing in relatively expensive radials. Thankfully, that sentiment is getting reversed now. The OEM market, which was down 40-50 percent last year, is also beginning to look interesting as OEs push for radiali-

JK Tyre has market leadership in the bus radials segment.

sation with their next generation products. We are trying to bag a big share of prestigious projects such as the Tata World Truck range. But, realisations on the OEM side could turn out to be to be lower than that for the after market. We will not go beyond a certain point, if our profitability were to come under strain. How do you reckon the Chinese factor in radials? The Chinese have a 12-13 percent market in the overall Indian CV tyre market and 20 percent in the radials segment. To some extent, they have helped grow the radial market, since their radials are priced at the same level as Indian bias tyres. But, if unchecked, the Chinese tyres have the potential to damage the domestic industry. On account of their hugely surplus domestic manufacturing capacities, government subsidies and stringent export restrictions in markets like the US, Chinese tyres are being dumped at throwaway prices into India. Government restrictions on such imports have helped to check this dumping, but if restrictions ease, we could see them JK Tyre will raise its radials’ manufacturing capacity to 12 lakh units per annum over the next 18-24 months.

‘We will get into OTR radials’ 146 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 147

interview / A.S. Mehta

aaa / Interview

The JDH truck and bus radial.

coming back. Simultaneously, we request the government to reduce restrictions on our import of raw material, to create a level playing field. Yet, the relief is that the Chinese cannot offer our quality at those low prices. Our brand and service support will be key distinguishers as well. What are your thoughts on the OTR space?

On a market of about 95,000 OTR tyres, we have a 40 percent market share, constituting market leadership. Our capacities, post an Rs 120 crore expansion effort will be 42,000-43,000 units. Our big order comes from BEML. Earlier, these OTR were being imported by the construction equipment major. We are also getting some orders from the likes of Telcon and JCB. Undoubtedly, as the infrastructure push grows, there will be a greater demand for construction machines. But, the OTR market may grow only 5-10 percent in product volumes. But, even on this small base, revenues will be higher- to the tune of 70-80 percent. This is because, the tyres are really big. A 12foot tyre, weighing 3.8 tonnes can cost Rs 6-7 lakh. These tyres have a life of 5,000-10,000 hours. At the end of this life, they need to be retreaded. We help the process by offering retread material to our franchisees. It is our intention to up the technology quotient on the OTR front. Going forward, we hope to get into OTR radials too. There are some customer enquiries for this kind of product.

Off The Road (OTR) tyres are becoming increasingly important for JK Tyre. To conclude this interaction, I must ask you about your analysis of margin behaviour in these unique times? This June quarter was definitely better than the previous ones. Margins are helped because these were also good selling months. But the second quarter has been characterised by some volatility in rubber and crude oil prices. This may impact margins by a bit. â&#x2013;

JK Tyre has highly depreciated bias tyre facilities. Therefore, it can afford to make these tyres until the market demands them.

R&D is a key weapon in JK Tyreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arsenal.

148 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009

the numbers game

siam data

siam data / the numbers game

Domestic 3.5 tonners sales up 29 percent Production


Tata Motors recovers lost ground in LCVs

Domestic Sales



For the month of


For the month of


For the month of


















M1 Category : Upto 8+1 seats (Passenger Carrier) B: Max.Mass upto 3.5 tonnes B1: No. of seats including driver not exceeding 7 BMW India Pvt Ltd 0 0 0 0 27 45 115 284 0 Force Motors Ltd 1 3 19 5 1 2 20 5 0 Ford India Pvt Ltd 252 40 1,414 609 269 39 1,402 640 0 General Motors India Pvt Ltd 421 506 2,971 2,069 932 580 4,597 2,706 0 Hindustan Motors Ltd 202 116 923 654 202 118 1,003 644 0 Honda Siel Cars India Ltd 0 0 0 0 129 77 1,300 107 0 Hyundai Motor India Ltd 0 0 0 0 3 0 25 11 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 5,094 8,102 29,720 37,033 4,942 6,724 26,621 32,916 103 Maruti Suzuki India Ltd 0 0 0 0 24 24 175 50 0 Mercedes-Benz India Pvt Ltd 0 0 0 0 10 16 49 39 0 Tata Motors Ltd 1,793 1,388 10,454 7,841 1,695 1,508 9,543 7,445 23 Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd 1,580 2,095 9,194 8,311 1,715 2,103 9,034 8,361 0 Total B1 9,343 12,250 54,695 56,522 9,949 11,236 53,884 53,208 126 B2: No. of seats including driver exceeding 7 but not exceeding 9 (7+1 & 8+1) Force Motors Ltd 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 0 General Motors India Pvt Ltd 145 99 763 778 120 107 765 1,328 0 International Cars & Motors Ltd 342 54 1,419 369 369 81 1,399 494 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 1,568 4,302 11,271 22,231 1,814 3,620 10,551 20,254 97 Maruti Suzuki India Ltd 588 299 3,196 1,135 738 308 2,804 1,879 19 Tata Motors Ltd 150 305 4,405 1,586 555 314 3,852 1,575 24 Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd 2,223 1,936 12,670 9,770 2,355 2,054 12,443 9,704 0 Total B2 5,016 6,995 33,724 35,879 5,951 6,484 31,814 35,234 140 Total B (B1+B2) 14,359 19,245 88,419 92,401 15,900 17,720 85,698 88,442 266 C: Multi Purpose Vehicles (MPVs) - Van type vehicles & Max. Mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes Van Type (M1) Maruti Suzuki India Ltd 4,889 6,819 31,030 36,752 6,540 6,601 33,554 36,136 107 Tata Motors Ltd 2,721 4,579 11,511 18,917 2,290 4,151 10,845 18,329 0 Total C 7,610 11,398 42,541 55,669 8,830 10,752 44,399 54,465 107 Total of all M1 Category (B+C) 21,969 30,643 130,960 148,070 24,730 28,472 130,097 142,907 373 N1 Category : Max. Mass upto 3.5 tonnes (Goods Carrier) Max Mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes Force Motors Ltd 52 290 505 856 69 239 807 794 1 Hindustan Motors Ltd 0 23 0 88 0 33 2 98 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 5,206 6,055 23,293 27,342 4,031 5,188 18,860 23,906 649 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 862 937 4,065 4,062 925 955 4,041 4,063 6 Tata Motors Ltd 10,358 10,924 45,160 49,628 8,146 10,615 36,061 44,804 1,137 Total of all N1 Category 16,478 18,229 73,023 81,976 13,171 17,030 59,771 73,665 1,793 M2 Category: More than 8+1 seats & Max. Mass upto 5 tonnes (Passenger Carrier) A: Max. Mass upto 5 tonnes A1: No. of seats including driver not exceeding 13 Force Motors Ltd 457 484 2,753 2,243 494 478 2,871 2,235 4 General Motors India Pvt Ltd 555 422 3,654 2,060 679 447 3,417 1,721 0 Hindustan Motors Ltd 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 4 0




0 0 0 1 0 0 0 73 0 0 14 0 88

0 6 0 0 0 0 0 965 0 0 196 0 1,167

0 0 0 2 0 0 0 210 0 0 43 0 255

0 0 38 72 20 11 0 141 229

0 0 0 493 37 44 0 574 1,741

0 0 38 186 30 69 0 323 578

155 12 167 396

383 0 383 2,124

489 31 520 1,098

0 0 360 0 557 917

7 0 3,360 42 4,323 7,732

2 0 1,353 18 2,228 3,601

0 0 0

10 0 0

0 5 0

For the month of


For the month of
















942 1,309 0 3,263


1,141 4,699 5,640 944 1,099 4,290 4,964 5 923 5,690 4,650 1,311 935 6,091 5,107 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2,970 16,796 14,594 3,428 2,959 16,671 14,031 12 A2: No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 Force Motors Ltd 419 527 1,512 2,077 423 523 1,676 2,024 2 Hindustan Motors Ltd 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 333 335 1,670 1,483 235 208 1,668 1,252 20 Tata Motors Ltd 278 369 1,748 2,114 260 468 1,741 2,621 8 Total A2 1,030 1,231 4,930 5,674 918 1,199 5,085 5,897 30 Total of all M2 Category (A1+A2) 4,293 4,201 21,726 20,268 4,346 4,158 21,756 19,928 42 N2 Category : Max. Mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes (Goods Carrier) A: Max. Mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes A1: Max Mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 5 tonnes Force Motors Ltd 126 123 741 585 132 133 772 590 2 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 123 111 402 394 125 101 489 401 0 Tata Motors Ltd 10 2,937 79 3,634 0 2,579 0 2,579 10 Total A1 259 3,171 1,222 4,613 257 2,813 1,261 3,570 12 A2: Max Mass exceeding 5 tonnes but not exceeding 7.5 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Force Motors Ltd 3 15 15 51 4 11 21 41 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 336 290 1,072 1,218 314 265 977 900 16 Swaraj Mazda Ltd 270 188 904 800 110 114 709 644 30 Tata Motors Ltd 2,685 436 10,405 7,343 1,377 0 6,933 6,904 1,017 VE CVs - Eicher 333 461 1,862 1,664 210 310 1,258 1,240 93 Total A2 3,627 1,390 14,258 11,076 2,015 700 9,898 9,729 1,156 A3: Max Mass exceeding 7.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 235 126 1,044 563 136 149 627 396 20 Swaraj Mazda Ltd 208 342 1,062 1,322 165 204 859 1,050 21 Tata Motors Ltd 1,591 1,922 6,426 7,619 1,181 2,122 6,220 7,423 71 VE CVs - Eicher 1,233 1,466 5,871 5,683 987 1,299 5,415 5,216 48 Total A3 3,267 3,856 14,403 15,187 2,469 3,774 13,121 14,085 160 Total of all N2 Category (A1+A2+A3) 7,153 8,417 29,883 30,876 4,741 7,287 24,280 27,384 1,328 M3 Category: More than 8+1 seats & Max. Mass exceeding 5 tonnes (Passenger Carrier) A: Max. Mass exceeding 5 tonnes but not exceeding 7.5 tonnes No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 Ashok Leyland Ltd 46 88 341 378 -2 72 259 270 42 Force Motors Ltd 0 12 54 96 4 11 98 89 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 169 210 1,670 1,753 137 84 1,778 1,618 0 Swaraj Mazda Ltd 295 188 1,320 948 201 118 1,038 797 2 Tata Motors Ltd 1,509 1,220 7,090 6,758 811 1,140 4,314 6,245 719 VE CVs - Eicher 94 207 993 1,114 98 112 880 857 35 Total A 2,113 1,925 11,468 11,047 1,249 1,537 8,367 9,876 798 B: Max. Mass exceeding 7.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 Ashok Leyland Ltd 96 150 448 613 45 103 327 469 7


Vlro ebobqldo^_qebjlpqbvb_^iip 150 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009



2008 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd Tata Motors Ltd Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd Total A1

Domestic Sales

For the month of



20 28 0 48

42 126 0 178

26 78 0 109

0 0 20 2 22 70

38 0 40 45 123 301

36 0 71 17 124 233

0 0 435 435

6 0 66 72

9 0 447 456

0 0 12 54 0 99 165

0 8 156 120 3,444 339 4,067

0 2 318 184 655 298 1,457

34 0 190 50 274 874

95 117 277 133 622 4,761

136 59 544 223 962 2,875

12 0 0 0 192 66 270

129 0 76 31 2,325 117 2,678

135 0 62 20 585 224 1,026




Amlr_ar8@S J^ohbqfkdLccf`b Ksk`_g8)7/0045303030 Bcjfg8)7///20123456 @_le_jmpc8)7/6.44//.//4-5 Afcll_g8)7/2217/27667

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 151

the numbers game / siam data

siam data / the numbers game

MHCVs show traction Production


Domestic Sales



For the month of


For the month of


For the month of








2008 Swaraj Mazda Ltd Tata Motors Ltd VE CVs - Eicher Total B

Bajajâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sept domestic 3-wheeler sales zoom 39 percent









375 235 961 869 271 213 828 684 2 466 459 1,821 2,077 383 467 1,576 2,034 3 225 137 1,071 938 126 192 821 916 0 1,162 981 4,301 4,497 825 975 3,552 4,103 12 C: Max. Mass exceeding 12 tonnes but not exceeding 16.2 tonnes No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 Ashok Leyland Ltd 1,912 1,423 10,282 5,154 1,549 1,178 7,161 3,997 369 Swaraj Mazda Ltd 0 5 0 13 0 4 0 9 0 Tata Motors Ltd 1,405 1,304 5,885 5,789 989 942 4,959 4,956 290 VE CVs - Eicher 19 40 94 91 9 23 72 95 8 Volvo Buses India Pvt. Ltd. 49 57 212 223 49 51 214 222 0 Total C 3,385 2,829 16,473 11,270 2,596 2,198 12,406 9,279 667 D: Max. Mass exceeding 16.2 tonnes No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 (Passenger Carrier) Volvo Buses India Pvt. Ltd. 0 7 0 24 0 10 0 23 0 Total D 0 7 0 24 0 10 0 23 0 Total of all M3 Category (A+B+C+D) 6,660 5,742 32,242 26,838 4,670 4,720 24,325 23,281 1,477 N3 Category: Max. Mass exceeding 12 tonnes (Goods Carrier) A: Max. Mass not exceeding 16.2 tonnes Max. Mass exceeding 12 tonnes but not exceeding 16.2 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 1,142 1,040 6,583 4,582 635 917 4,908 3,912 156 Tata Motors Ltd 3,693 1,687 18,333 10,091 2,974 1,422 15,506 9,387 446 VE CVs - Eicher 186 195 787 638 124 88 609 264 13 Total A 5,021 2,922 25,703 15,311 3,733 2,427 21,023 13,563 615 B1: Max Mass exceeding 16.2 tonnes - Rigid Vehicles (a) Max. Mass exceeding 16.2 but not exceeding 25 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 2,308 1,254 13,484 4,029 1,542 1,209 10,521 4,220 0 Asia Motor Works Ltd 76 78 1,189 613 360 169 1,490 793 0 Force Motors Ltd 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 Tata Motors Ltd 4,616 4,199 24,825 19,804 3,684 3,866 21,874 18,311 176 VE CVs - Eicher 58 13 328 87 29 31 340 129 10 VE CVs - Volvo 0 0 194 0 0 0 3 0 0 Total (A) 7,058 5,544 40,020 24,534 5,615 5,275 34,228 23,453 186 (b) Max. Mass exceeding 25 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 359 0 1,031 26 152 0 922 89 0 Mercedes-Benz India Pvt Ltd 11 0 193 14 15 5 116 67 0 Tata Motors Ltd 206 962 1,866 3,159 311 768 1,782 2,681 0 Tatra Vectra Motors Ltd 0 0 10 0 0 0 6 0 0 VE CVs - Eicher 29 40 37 58 -4 37 105 92 0 VE CVs - Volvo 160 34 479 214 115 125 382 266 45 Total (B) 765 1,036 3,616 3,471 589 935 3,313 3,195 45 Total B1 ((A)+(B)) 7,823 6,580 43,636 28,005 6,204 6,210 37,541 26,648 231 B2: Max. Mass exceeding 16.2 tonnes- Haulage Tractor (Tractor-Semi Trailer/Trailer) (B) Max. Mass exceeding 16.2 tonnes but not exceeding 26.4 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0





0 14 0 40

4 8 69 165

0 36 2 114

190 0 353 13 0 556

1,474 0 1,518 32 0 3,024

536 0 1,298 25 0 1,859

0 0 866

0 0 5,867

0 0 2,999

223 131 112 466

787 1,684 125 2,596

760 1,332 415 2,507

0 0 0 205 9 0 214

5 0 0 646 21 186 858

124 0 0 1,059 38 0 1,221

0 0 7 0 0 0 7 221

0 0 0 0 0 45 45 903

95 0 86 0 12 0 193 1,414




Domestic Sales


For the month of


For the month of



















(B) Max. Mass exceeding 26.4 tonnes but not exceeding 35.2 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 75 503 1,409 518 100 389 1,028 620 0 10 Tata Motors Ltd 20 0 1,562 1 313 533 2,031 1,456 2 0 Total (B) 95 503 2,971 519 413 922 3,059 2,076 2 10 (C) Max. Mass exceeding 35.2 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 395 101 1,738 187 68 216 1,119 610 0 13 Asia Motor Works Ltd 25 25 308 159 52 63 583 207 0 0 Tata Motors Ltd 310 0 2,477 0 308 541 2,127 1,697 10 10 VE CVs - Eicher 1 0 21 0 -1 2 41 31 0 0 VE CVs - Volvo 12 0 96 0 12 7 38 19 0 0 Total (C) 743 126 4,640 346 439 829 3,908 2,564 10 23 Total B2 ((A)+(B)+(C)) 838 629 7,611 865 852 1,751 6,967 4,640 12 76 Total of all N3 Category (A+B1+B2) 13,682 10,131 76,950 44,181 10,789 10,388 65,531 44,851 858 763 TH Category: Three Wheelers A: Passenger Carrier A1:No. of seats Including driver not exceeding 4 & Max.Mass not exceeding 1 tonne Atul Auto Limited 993 377 2,483 1,141 272 376 1,162 1,157 724 0 Bajaj Auto Ltd 24,755 28,823 102,313 112,257 10,896 15,180 48,846 64,282 12,458 14,211 Force Motors Ltd 0 5 44 39 7 5 75 39 0 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 3,021 2,487 10,829 10,548 2,820 2,501 11,249 10,749 0 36 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 9,447 12,305 45,155 51,568 9,360 12,270 43,986 50,473 242 240 Scooters India Ltd 242 267 1,142 1,086 275 275 1,218 1,091 0 0 TVS Motor Company Ltd 631 1,020 1,911 4,253 381 963 1,556 4,098 0 70 Total A1 39,089 45,284 163,877 180,892 24,011 31,570 108,092 131,889 13,424 14,557 A2:No. of seats Including driver exceeding 4 but not exceeding 7 & Max.Mass not exceeding 1.5 tonnes Force Motors Ltd 46 70 469 329 50 18 223 120 42 42 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 78 0 1,126 20 78 8 461 111 0 0 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 19 0 19 0 0 0 0 0 18 0 Scooters India Ltd 263 197 909 1,106 262 198 1,347 1,056 0 0 Total A2 406 267 2,523 1,455 390 224 2,031 1,287 60 42 Total A (A1+A2) 39,495 45,551 166,400 182,347 24,401 31,794 110,123 133,176 13,484 14,599 B: Goods Carrier B1: Max. Mass not exceeding 1 tonne Atul Auto Limited 436 526 1,768 2,405 432 519 1,775 2,430 4 6 Bajaj Auto Ltd 1,054 599 5,011 3,684 970 630 5,330 3,737 0 0 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 4,413 4,582 20,504 18,761 4,040 4,516 20,048 18,938 61 12 Scooters India Ltd 264 295 1,327 1,240 307 313 1,376 1,243 0 0 Total B1 6,167 6,002 28,610 26,090 5,749 5,978 28,529 26,348 65 18 B2: Others Force Motors Ltd 167 98 720 508 173 89 1,120 505 0 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 1,076 1,278 6,690 5,859 1,417 1,143 8,081 5,629 0 60 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 0 0 117 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Scooters India Ltd 194 191 705 1,037 189 197 840 1,014 0 0 Total B2 1,437 1,567 8,232 7,404 1,779 1,429 10,041 7,148 0 60 Total B (B1+B2) 7,604 7,569 36,842 33,494 7,528 7,407 38,570 33,496 65 78 Total of all TH Category (A+B) 47,099 53,120 203,242 215,841 31,929 39,201 148,693 166,672 13,549 14,677


Vlro ebobqldo^_qebjlpqbvb_^iip 152 / Commercial Vehicle / october 2009


For the month of

09-10 0 7 7

16 0 16

0 0 22 0 62 84 91 3,590

38 0 10 0 0 48 107 4,028

1,329 51,999 0 0 1,418 0 0 54,746

0 49,348 0 63 1,722 0 206 51,339

332 0 18 6 356 55,102

210 0 0 0 210 51,549

9 0 467 0 476

6 0 151 0 157

9 50 120 0 179 655 55,757

0 83 0 0 83 240 51,789

Amlr_ar8@S J^ohbqfkdLccf`b Ksk`_g8)7/0045303030 Bcjfg8)7///20123456 @_le_jmpc8)7/6.44//.//4-5 Afcll_g8)7/2217/27667

october 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 153

RNI NO. MAHENG / 2006 / 20842

Commercial Vehicle Oct. 2009 Issue  
Commercial Vehicle Oct. 2009 Issue  

Commercial Vehicle Oct. 2009 Issue