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Rs. 100

In search of a

smoother ride Volvo bids for telematics market • Veer Vahana looks at European JV

At the heart of the indian trucks & bus industry Volume 3 Issue 10 • July 2009


back with a Bang!

With over 2.5 lakh Tata Ace on the road, you’ll find one in every corner. There are over two-and-a-half lakh Tata Ace on the road changing the lives of as many people.

Tata Motors Limited, 26th Floor, World Trade Centre - 1, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai - 400 005. Tel.: 022-66561820, 66561800. Log on to

Straightdrive As I write, the rains have not yet arrived in half the country and the budget has not been presented. Moreover, as the inflation rate dips into negative territory for the first time since 1977, there is a danger that the euphoria generated by the UPA government’s victory may be wearing thin. Kamal Nath’s enthusiasm for road building, a potential extension of sops for the auto industry and moves towards liberalisation of the economy will augur well in the long run. But many wonder what will happen over the next six months? There may be no ready answers to that one, but the truth is that as much as we want to wish it away, the economic slowdown is here to stay for a while. Yet, incredibly, all this uncertainty has not deterred our CV brethren from getting into product launches. Our cover story talks about MAN FORCE TRUCKS’ agenda for revival. The redoubtable Abhay Firodia is candid enough to admit that European-level specifications may not have been the best idea first-up for the JV. After a period of introspection, the Indo-German combine has come up with a two-horse game plan. While there is no compromise in reliability and build quality, some peripheral trims have been done away with, even as a 220 HP engine gives company to its older 280 HP sibling. We now have trucks for the masses as well as the classes. Besides this, story, we have a host of stories on buses. Ahfaaz has his ear to the ground in a bid to understand the factors plaguing private bus operators. Exorbitant taxation, curbs on entering city limits, lack of parking space and lower margins are realities that they live with. Many are quite open to partnering with STUs in sharing parking and ticket distribution infrastructure. But, it is not so clear if the STUs will want to co-exist so openly with private sector competition. Meanwhile, Ram heads off to Bangalore, where he meets Veera Vahana and Harsha Wheels, ambitious bus body builders, who seek alliance with European partners. Special vehicles and monocoque bus are on the radar. If bodybuilders are thinking big, how can Volvo Buses be left behind? As After a period of introspection, announced recently, it has entered the the Indo-German combine has telematics market, under the Volvo Con- come up with a two-horse game sultancy Services banner. Some BMTC plan. We now have trucks for the buses are running a pilot and the results masses as well as the classes. should be known in six months. Bangalore was also the venue for Mann+Hummel to announce a foray into the aftermarket for automotive filters. Global sales may be hit, but investments in India are very much on. A new R&D set up is coming up, even as other OEMs are being targeted on the back of the prestigious Tata Motors’ World Truck mandate. Staying in South India, Hyderabad was also the venue for the SIAM’s SAFE annual convention. Various national and international speakers highlighted the need for an effective inspection and maintenance regime for vehicles to ensure safety and prevent pollution. Last but not the least is ABEL which has risen from a fabricator of tractor bodies to a manufacturer of backhoe loaders. Ambition need not be the virtue of a few! 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, Amit Chhangani, Bunny Punia, Adhish Alwani, Rohit Paradkar 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) Sr. Response Executives Vidya Venkatesan (Mumbai), 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

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 

What’s inside Straight Drive

what’s inside

Sridhar Chari




CV News


Harsha Wheels in

Plans are afoot to rope in a European bus chassis maker. Until then, the Bangalore-based bus body builder is focusing on profitable areas within the bus market.


SAFE calls for road worthiness

The annual convention looked at ways and means to develop a comprehensive vehicle inspection and maintenance regime in India.



ABEL and ambitious

These are interesting times for the Faridabad based once-tractor body fabricator-now-backhoe loader manufacturer.


Ford transit gets eco-friendly

Ford introduces the green ECOnetic technology in its Transit range of vans

In search of a smoother ride The private bus transport segment has grown in strength over the years, but certain issues need to be resolved, before it can fulfil its potential.

Cover Story


MAN FORCE TRUCKS: Back with a bang


In its second innings, the Indo-German combine hopes to cater to the classes as well as the masses.

Life savers and much move

The ambulance built on the Mercedes-Benz Citaro platform can transport up to 80 people, while even undertaking life saving procedures on the move.


Canter Eco Hybrid beefed up

Mitsubishi Fuso adds muscles to its light duty truck as a part of Daimlers ‘Shaping Future Transportation’ initiative.




Nissan showcases class

The Japanese auto maker rolls out the NV200 Vanette, a versatile, light duty compact van.

Siam data

68 70 Volvo to introduce telematics solutions ITS4Mobility Solutions are being piloted on BMTC’s buses. This exercise could be the start of Volvo’s foray into the telematics segment.


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 / july 2009

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Mann+Hummel enters aftermarket

Veera Vahana bets on integral buses

The Mann Filter range will be sold in the aftermarket, even as Mann+Hummel affirms its strong faith in India.

The body builder plans to get into integral buses, once a plan to ally with a European bus maker fructifies in 3-4 years.

45 july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 

letters to cv

Rs. 100

Doosan maps India Hino offers exclusive preview • IRT studies TN STU passenger satisfaction

of r e t Let month Put buses before dedicated lanes The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and 10-15 low floor air-conditioned the

Transport’s (BEST) decision to purchase 550 semi low floor buses and 250 midi buses is a welcome one. Simultaneous introduction of these many buses will surely help to improve the image of public transport. I think this is something which should be done in each and very major city in the country. Currently there are around 15 cities in India which are implementing the BRT system. I completely support their move, but feel that there is a need to change the way we are implementing this project. The existing approach is to make dedicated lane and bus stops and then roll out low floor, air-conditioned buses. The problem with this approach is that a considerable amount of money is spent in creating dedicated lanes and other infrastructure which impacts the amount that can be allocated for purchase of buses. The objective of any BRT system is to offer speedy and comfortable travel. This is where policy makers need to focus. The travel time should include not just time spent in travelling but also that which is spent in waiting for a bus. I want to put forth the example of Pune to explain my point further. On the 17 km stretch between Katraj to Hadapsar, PMPML currently runs

At the heart of the indian trucks & bus industry Volume 3 Issue 9 • June 2009

buses. Because of dedicated lanes, the travelling time has decreased by 15 to 20 minutes. But on the other hand the frequency of these buses is on an TATA’S average, once every 20 minN utes. So at the end of the day, STORM I the time taken by a passenger from the moment he reaches a bus stop to the time he reaches his home has roughly remained the same. If the PMPML had gone in for buying more buses instead of creating dedicated lanes, the travelling time in a bus might not have curtailed by 15 to 20 minutes, but the frequency would have definitely improved. Introduction of a large number of quality buses on roads would also have improved the image of the public transport further. This is why, I feel that we should stress more on rolling buses than creating infrastructure.


09 CV_June_cover.indd 1

6/2/2009 3:03:40 PM

■ Amol Joshi, Pune

Kudos to Team Tata Tata Motors has finally rolled out the much awaited World Truck series. The cutting- edge, contemporary features of these trucks suggests that Indian manufacturers have come of age and are now ready to take on global players not only in India but also overseas. The introduction of these new trucks is going to have a big impact on the overall truck market in India. According to me, the impact will be more on foreign players like Volvo and Mercedes as compared to domestic players like Ashok Leyland, Mahindra, Eicher and AMW. The World Truck series

appear to be at par with offerings from Volvo and Mercedes Benz, while surely being competitive on pricing. As such, it will not a surprise if the European players see some erosion in their customer base. These players do not have offerings at the lower end of the market, which could act as a cushion when there is erosion in the market share at the top end of the segment. ■ Sujeet Chatterjee, Bhubaneshwar

Repossessed trucks As I drove along one of Mumbai’s industrial belts, suddenly the sight of hundreds of trucks parked hit me. It certainly was not a factory. Some enquiries revealed that it was a dump yard for trucks surrendered by borrowers, who could neither afford to repay the debt nor run the trucks in the first place. Apparently, the finance companies were parking these almost brand new vehicles illegally. But someone informed that at least some buyers had started to di-

minish the ‘stock’. Is that good news or bad news? Both. The good news is that there is some demand for trucks, but the bad bit is that, this may just be a case of people looking for a bargain. If figures of 40,000 trucks being available in this fashion are true then new truck sales will not pick up immediately. ■ Mansur Ahmed, Mumbai

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  / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

CV Monitor


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Kamal Nath promises massive road building programme


he struggling CV industry is expected to receive a major boost if new surface transport minister Kamal Nath’s ambitious road building plans are implemented. ‘Planning has to be delivered on roads, not just on paper’ the minister had remarked on assuming office. The former commerce minister has spoken about his target to build 20 km of road every day. The same was as low as 2 km a day during the previous UPA government, in sharp contrast to 11 km a day for the previous NDA regime. According to sources close to the ministry, priority will be given to speedy implementation of those projects that have already been planned. There are also indications of complete overhaul in the working of the highway department including rejection of failed models and adoption of

more progressive models that hold potential to attract new investments. Many lowresponse projects under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) are also expected to be reworked. The surface transport ministry could look at alternate sources of finance. Foreign financial institutions could be roped in to float infrastructure funds in India. In addition to this, the NHAI may also be allowed to raise some money from bonds. The upcoming Budget could also see income up to Rs 1.5 lakh being exempt, on part investment in infrastructure funds. Secondly, depending upon their financial strength, road transport contractors could be allowed to bid for multiple projects as opposed to a limited number

now. Moreover, if toll collection is felt inadequate as a means of ensuring revenues for road contractors, the government is open to be looking at an annuity payment or direct contractual payments. Also, the government may look to balance its claim on higher than expected toll collections with support to the contractors in case, of under recoveries of the same. Moreover, the minister has suggested that disputes with contractors will not cause the entire payments due to them to be withheld. Finally, the NHAI will have more teeth and a stable management in place. The body will have regional arms to facilitate faster planning and implementation at the local level. ■

Pune–Solapur journey to be slashed to 2 hours


he National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Pune Solapur Expressways Pvt Ltd (PSEPL) have signed a memorandum of understanding to upgrade the existing two-lane undivided Solapur Highway into a four-lane divided carriageway. The MoU initially focuses on the first phase of 40 km stretch from Pune to Indrapur. The 1,100 crore project, which is expected to be complete within three  / Commercial Vehicle / juLY 2009

years, will bring down the travel time be-

tween Solapur to Pune to just two hours. The new highway will have a speed limit of 100 kmph. PSEPL is a special purpose project floated jointly by Tata Group’s Navinya Buildcon Pvt Ltd and Italian group Atlantia SpA. While the government will pitch in with Rs.299 crore, the remainder will be raised by Navinya. The Tata Group Company has been offered a 17 year contract to collect toll charges. ■

Mahindra outlines huge investment plans


ndia’s largest utility maker, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has outlined an investment outlay of nearly 5,000 crore over the next three years, to

ramp up production, bring out new models and expanding overseas operations. The company will be launching a brand new series of medium and heavy trucks by the

end of this year. The Chakan facility with a manufacturing capacity of 2,50,000 units per annum will eventually see investments to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore. Mahindra will also invest an additional Rs 600-700 crore to set up a premium SUV manufacturing unit in its Chakan plant. The company is also undertaking a series of measures with respect to its tractor business, especially after its merger with Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL). In order to make the most of PTL products, M&M will brand it separately. PTL will be positioned in the entry segment while the flagship brand M&M will cater to the premium segment. There will be separate sales channels, marketing and dealer networks, while only the back-end operations such as sourcing, manufacturing and product development will be under the same roof. ■

Daimler AG delays truck production to 2011


aimler AG, has decided to start go slow with its plans to manufacture a more affordable range of trucks at the Chennai plant. As against the initial planned production capacity of 70,000 units per year, Daimler will now roll out just 6,000 trucks, equally split as 3,000 units each of 9 tonne and 12 tonners from the Mitsubishi Fuso range. Even these trucks will hit the market in 2011, a year later than what was planned by the now defunct Hero-Daimler JV. Initially, production will be for the Indian market alone, though exports are on the cards sometime in the future. According to sources, despite a steady ramp up, production levels may breach the 50,000 units mark only by 2016. ‘For Daimler Trucks, India is more than just a market. It is the key to a completely new generation of products. However, we have to realise that the economic

crisis does not pass India without any impact. But this gives us more time since Daimler Trucks will not position trucks in an economic downturn,’ remarked a company official. Earlier this year, the Hero Group, had pulled out of the 4,000 crore partnership citing a de-growth in the commercial vehicle market. It is now in the process of selling back its 40 percent stake. The venture will be renamed once Hero’s pullout is completed. Daimler though,

is open to a new alliance. The premium Actros mining tippers will be continued separately through the passenger car arm of Daimler, MercedesBenz India. ■

juLY 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 

CV monitor / news

Real ‘national permit’ GMR Infra eyes Rs 10,000 crore of on the cards highway devpt. work


n an answer to a long-standing demand from truckers, the central ministry for road transport and highways is looking at introducing a real ‘national permit’. For a flat fee of Rs 15,000, each of India’s 37 million truckers can be issued with the document to enable free movement across the length and breadth of the country. At the moment, on a payment of Rs 5,000, truckers are issued a ‘national permit’ that allows them freedom of movement only within the state of issue. Another Rs 5,000 in fees will ensure access to three other states. Needless to say, this system results in barriers to free movement of road cargo and harassment to the truckers. Indeed, a genuine national permit has been a key demand from the trucking community, which has gone on strike 3 times within the past 5 years. But states are apprehensive of the new scheme. They fear that the central government’s offer to pool fees and re-distribute the same to them may result in lower revenues. In response to this, the central government is setting an implementation window of a year. If the states suffer a loss, it may compensate them for the same. In the event of a surplus, the states will need to invest in promoting ‘road safety’. ■


he container corporation of India has signed an agreement with NYK Line (India) Ltd, the Indian arm of Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha Ltd, Japan’s largest shipping company. The agreement will result in a 50:50 JV between the partners for the transport of cars by rail and trucks. A total of 1.5 million cars were sold last year in India, with a good number of small cars being exported. The JV will aim to set up a hub and spoke approach to transport cars both for exports as well as within the country. For starters, a pilot service will be started from Delhi-Chennai. There will also be regular services across Northern, Southern and Western India. Though the ultimate target will be to ship export cars in car racks, for the moment, containers will be used. Each container can transport 5-6 small cars or 4 medium cars. Some 45 containers can be transported at a time. ■

CONCOR and NYK enter into auto logistics JV


he container corporation of India has signed an agreement with NYK Line (India) Ltd, the Indian arm of Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha Ltd, Japan’s largest shipping company. The agreement will result in a 50:50 JV between the partners for the transport of cars by rail and trucks. A total of 1.5 million cars were sold last year in India, with a good number of small cars being exported. The JV will aim to set up a hub and spoke approach to transport cars both for exports as well as within the country. For starters, a pilot service will be started from Delhi-Chennai. There will also be regular services across Northern, Southern and Western India. Though the ultimate target will be to ship export cars in car racks, for the moment, containers will be used. Each container can transport 5-6 small cars or 4 medium cars. Some 45 containers can be transported at a time. ■ 10 / Commercial Vehicle / juLY 2009

CV monitor / news

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New timelines for ALL’s JVs with John Deere and Nissan


shok Leyland has scotched speculation of Nissan Motor pulling out of the LCV alliance. But the CV maker has said that the economic slowdown may prompt the first vehicles to roll out only in 2011- a year later than initially envisaged. The JV will in time come out with 7 models in the 1.5 – 6 tonne GVW range. Having said that, the targeted production of 1,00,000 LCVs per annum may be delayed by a fair bit. Ashok Leyland has also decided against a dedicated facility for the JV. Indications are that the first LCVs may be made in ALL’s Hosur facility as well as Nissan Motor’s Chennai plant. When the agreement was signed in 2007, the two partners had committed an investment of Rs 2,300 crore for three JV companies in the area of LCV production, powertrain and technology development. Another JV, ALL’s venture with John Deere in the construction equipment space has also been pushed back by a year. Production of backhoe loaders, front loaders, four-wheel loaders and possibly skid steer loaders will now begin in 2011. The last product has been a recent consideration for the JV. The, skid steer loaders could be a useful in the urban context, considering 12 / Commercial Vehicle / juLY 2009

that they can be coupled with a variety of attachments. consolidate non-truck businesses Ashok Leyland has seen its toplines take a hit along with the cyclically declining truck business. Hence, it is making concerted efforts to shore up the promising non-cyclical business. In the 08-09 fiscal, combined sales of buses, non-auto engines, exports, defence,

spare parts and power solutions (non-auto engines for gen sets) contributed 50 percent of total turnover as against 34 percent in 07-08. Individually, the engine and defence businesses fared well as did the spare parts business, but buses and exports de-grew slightly in FY 2008. Strong growth has been registered in the company’s sales of non-auto engines which power gen sets used in telecom tower shelters as well as marine applications. The engine business brought in revenues of Rs 404 crore in 2008-09 against 204 crore in the last fiscal. To tap into the gensets market in a better manner, Ashok Leyland, has added products such as alternators, radiators and noise shields to the core offering of engines. The effort is to become an end-to-end service provider by offering installation and erection services. Moving to buses, now that the JNNURM scheme has started spurring business from STUs, ALL hopes to deliver 2,800 buses by the end of the second quarter. The company aims to bag at least half of the some 9,000 buses likely to be procured under the JNNURM. K. Sridharan, Chief Financial Officer of Ashok Leyland said that these developments could push contribution from the non-cyclical business to 55 percent of turnover this year. ■

Tata Motors thinks lateral to sell World Trucks


aving launched the gamechanging World Truck range, Tata Motors is reported to be targeting the 4,000 units sales mark by the end of this fiscal. The company is cognisant of the fact that products at the upper end of the 10-75 tonne GCW range will attract a price tag of more than 50 lakh. It is therefore not looking at big numbers initially, but pragmatically on attracting customers first-hand. Pilot studies with customers are already up and running. And, a basket of innovative financing offers are being planned to. These include, a first of its kind for the Indian CV industry - operating leases as also extended loan periods. To implement the operating lease, Tata Motors is already in talks with existing operating leasing companies. The USP of Operating Leasing is that, the asset value remains on the books of the financier while the buyer pays a relatively lower lease rental. In other words, customers only pay for the hours that the truck is used by them. Further, unlike financial leasing, the cus-

With fuel expenditure working out to 60 percent of the operating cost of a truck, our offering will score many points,’ claims R. Ramakrishnan, Head of Marketing and Sales MHCVs, Tata Motors. Offering a background to the launch of the World Truck range, Tata Motors’ officials state that tractor-trailers have emerged as a better alternative to multiaxle rigids. The former now account for 15-20 percent of Tata Motors’ total commercial vehicle sales. The initial additional cost of 15-20 percent will not deter transporters in making the move, as the benefits accrued are tremendous in terms of carrying capacity, trip time and fuel-efficiency. A decade ago, tractor-trailers were less than 5 percent of the total trucks. With the current optimism, they are likely to hit 35 to 40 percent of commercial vehicle sales. tomer is not compelled to buy the vehicle from the leasing company. The plan of extended loan repayment time is also going to be a reality soon. Tata Motors has initiated discussions with financial institutions to extend the repayment periods to more than 7 years. Current repayment periods range from 3-5 years. ‘This is viable because the World Trucks are more rugged, and can last longer than conventional trucks,’ according to Tata Motors. Interesting times are ahead thus, for Tata Motors. With the solid offerings, it will be equipped to withstand heavy competition from world class players as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Man-Force. Tata Motors is banking on the comparative advantage in acquisition costs and operating expenditure to carve sizeable volumes in what is until now a niche market. ‘Low lifecycle costs will be our product USP.

…registers lower inventory levels Tata Motors, the market leader with a 70 percent share in India’s CV mart, has succeeded in reducing inventory by resorting to effective measures such as block closures of plants and rationalisation of supply chains. The company has reached very close to the usual inventory level of 25-28 days for commercial vehicles. The same had shot up to 45 days during the troubled Nov-Dec 2008 months. ■

juLY 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 13

CV monitor / news

States order only 53 percent of incentivised buses


he figure of 7,815 buses may seem impressive, but it compares poorly with the central government’s nod for the states to acquire 14,695 buses. STUs acquiring these buses before June 30 would be entitled to incentives from the government under the second fiscal stimulus package. This funding under the JNNURM, exclusively for city and bus rapid transit services comes from a mixture of central, state and civic government authorities. Despite these benefits, the state transport undertakings’ (STUs) have been less than enthusiastic. Some observers lay the blame at the STUs’ poor financial health, while others point put that bus manufacturers too lack the capacity to put together so many buses at such short notice. Looking at the positives, Andhra Pradesh has done well to place orders of 1,500 buses, while Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, West Bengal, Delhi and Kerala follow with their respective tallies of 1,310, 1,250 and 1,100, 710, 625 and 320 buses.

Incidentally, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland have split these orders in a 60:40 ratio. They target to deliver buses within the next 4-6 months. But there is still scope for other bus makers like Eicher Trucks and Buses, Volvo Buses, Mercedes,

Swaraj Mazda, Mahindra and Mahindra as well as Force Motors. The government has incentivised purchases of many kinds of buses including AC low-floor, non-AC low-floor, semi low-floor buses and mini buses. ■

DTC considers semi-low floor buses


ccording to the Delhi government, deliveries of the 2,500 low floor buses from Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland have

14 / Commercial Vehicle / juLY 2009

been behind schedule. It has been suggested that the manufacturers will only start delivering buses by the end of this year. The buses which will add to the tally of 650 Tata Marcopolos will all need to be pressed into service by mid-2010 – around the Commonwealth Games. The Delhi Transport Corporation needs a few more buses, especially as the much maligned Blueline buses need to be phased out too. Hence, the Delhi government has mandated the DTC to acquire another 1,000 semi-low floor buses. Though not as comfortable as the ultra-low floor buses,

the latter are cheaper and more importantly, easily available. Such buses have been increasingly procured in South India and Mumbai. Under the JNNURM scheme, some 16,000 buses are expected to be procured by STUs. ■

CV monitor / news

Tata Ace reaches 3,00,000 units mark


ata Motors, mini-truck Ace has scaled the impressive sales figure of 3,00,000 units since its launch in 2005. Of these, almost 1.1 lakh units were notched up in the difficult last fiscal alone. As late as April 2009, the Ace drove Tata Motors’ LCV sales to a 22 percent growth, at a time when HCV sales declined considerably. The mini-truck has eaten away into some sections of the three-wheeler market, which is dominated by the likes of Bajaj Auto, Piaggio, Mahindra and Force Motors. These companies have either already or will soon launch their own four-wheeled mini-trucks. At a price of Rs 2.3 lakh, the 1 tonne GVW Ace, powered by a naturally aspirated 4 stroke 700cc indirect-injection diesel engine presents a viable alternative to larger three-wheelers that are only marginally cheaper. Beyond this, the Ace has ushered in ergonomics, safety and aesthetic aspects that are not seen in three-wheelers. Finally, the mini-truck would benefit from not being subject to permits (as with three-wheelers) and entry restrictions within cities (larger trucks). Tata Motors has ushered in a 1-tonne payload Ace, as also CNG and electric versions. In the works is stop-start technology in engines that helps to save fuel by automatically cutting fuel supply when not required. A five-speed gearbox will allow for enhanced driveability, while 13-inch wheels make for increased groundclearance. ■

Hazira Road witnesses high traffic


he road leading to the Hazira point is very busy indeed. It sees 1,400 vehicles plying the road every hour. This number includes 400 trucks, 400 light motor vehicles and 600 two-wheelers. These trends came to light during the course of the preparation of a detailed project report (DPR) to widen NH 6. The expansion of the highway along the 132 km Hazira road straddling Maharashtra and Gujarat will entail an investment of Rs 1,661 crore. ■ 16 / Commercial Vehicle / juLY 2009

news / cv monitor

Atul Auto launches rearengined three-wheeler

Tyre makers push for revision in duty structures


ajkot-based Atul Auto has come out with the ‘Gem’ an 8HP, rear-engined diesel three- wheeler with a payload of 585 kg. Thus far, the company has focused on front-engined three-wheelers. The Gem has two variants – the Paxx, a passenger carrier and the Cargo-XL – load carrier. The Cargo XL, made of a monocoque chassis for greater stability, comes with a cabin and doors. It has larger wheels, electric start, self-adjusting hydraulic brakes with a tandem master cylinder, dual headlamps, steering lock and a single-piece glass windscreen. Atul Auto claims that the Gem can offer a mileage of 35km/l. It is offering a warranty of two years on the three-wheeler. In order to cater to this new entrant, Atul Auto is getting ready to expand its Rajkot plant’s current capacity of 24,000 three-wheelers. The company also has another plant at Haridwar, Uttaranchal. Atul Auto will soon launch other three-wheelers such as the Gem Cargo, Gem Delivery van and the Gem Hi-Deck. ■

ower sales of trucks and buses have caused the offtake of domestic tyres to fall by 2 percent. Adding to the woes is the issue of rising raw material prices. For instance, the international price of natural rubber has risen from Rs 70 per kg in March to 100 per kg presently. The price of domestic rubber is even higher – to the tune of 15-20 percent. What is more, depending on seasonal variations domestic rubber production is short of demand by anywhere from 17-62 percent. This can be hard to digest for the tyre industry – which counts raw materials as 62 percent of costs. As a result, net profit as a proportion of net sales for the industry

is an abysmal 0.96 percent in 08-09 as against 4.86 percent a year ago. To remedy this sad state of affairs, the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA) has been lobbying with the finance ministry to halve custom duties on imported raw rubber to 10 percent. They point out that even a Re 1/ kg reduction in the cost of natural rubber would save the industry up to Rs 50 crore. More savings can be achieved if the government accepts ATMA’s demand to waive duties on other imported raw materials such as butyl rubber, polyester tyre cord, styrene butadiene rubber (tyre grade) and chlorobutyl or

bromo butyl rubber. These products attract 5-10 percent duties. At the other end of the market is also a demand to raise import duties on imported tyres to 20 percent. Currently, tyres, predominantly from Korea and China, attract just 8.6 percent in import duties under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement. Domestic tyre makers would need to shore up their domestic market, more so, since their CV export market has declined by 20 percent. And, even this diminished global market is being eyed by Chinese companies who are quite open to offloading their pent up inventory at artificially low prices. ■

Oil industry seeks decontrolled prices


he Petroleum Federation of India, an association of public and private sector oil firms, has asked the central government to de-control pricing of petroleum and diesel. In March 28, 2002, the then government had passed a resolution which allowed oil firms to change prices every fortnight in alignment with international prices. Since 2004 however, the UPA government has resorted to dictating prices to oil companies. As a result, public sector companies make losses selling fuel at unreal prices, while the private sector players have an equally tough time matching these rates. Similarly, there is also a demand to align gas prices with international rates, while restoring tax breaks on its production. The Petrofed also wants the sevenyear income-tax holiday on setting up of refineries to be extended to the private sector. Also in the list of proposals to the government is demand to do away with subsidies on domestic LPG. ■ juLY 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 17

CV monitor / news

news / cv monitor

Volvo Trucks opens dealership in Goa


ncreased demand for Volvo Trucks in iron ore mining has accelerated the decision of Volvo Trucks to open its exclusive dealership in Goa along with Svenska Technologies Private Limited. Inaugurating the dealership, Somnath Bhattacharjee, President, Volvo Trucks India, said, ‘The iron and coal mining industry is the key growth driver for Volvo Trucks in India because our products are high on performance and lifetime profitability together with customised aftermarket support. Therefore, in the domestic market our products enjoy a 70 percent market share in the premium European truck segment.’ Volvo Trucks India is a business area of VE Commercial Vehicles Limited, the 5050 joint venture between the Volvo Group

and Eicher Motors Limited. Its product range includes the FM range of tippers and rigid trucks for special application Volvo FM tractor series has applications in express cargo, petroleum and chemicals, bulk cargo, construction and even special cargo. The FH series is used in long-haulage ODC (overdimension cargo) transport applications. Volvo Trucks has a total population of 5,500 units in India. The Rs. 50 crore Svenska Technolo-

gies operates dealerships in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Goa. The dealership in Goa has a completely equipped facility for aggregate overhauls. ■

...E2 Plus launched


uilding on the E2 range, Eicher Trucks and Buses has now unveiled the ‘E2 Plus’ range of light and medium duty trucks. The ‘E2 Plus’ truck series is available in all standard configurations in BSII and BS-III models; and is built on the value proposition of improved mileage and performance over the current Eicher E2 Trucks –launched by Eicher Trucks and Buses in 2005. When launched in 2005, the E2 series

18 / Commercial Vehicle / juLY 2009

gave the customer the benefit of increased fuel efficiency over competition, lesser gear shifts, faster turnaround time, more pulling time and better driver comfort. While retaining the mileage and stronger transmission advantage of E2, the ‘E2 Plus’ in addition offers to its customers a good amount of value addition. A stronger driver cabin reinforced with upper and lower front crash guards, cross-members and

a sturdy metallic bumper along with the powerful, clear head lamps all together offer greater safety. A larger capacity air filter enhances engine life and along with the heavy duty transmission and a strong cargo body with super-structure, metallic fuel piping ensure much greater reliability in operations. A power steering (optional), linen seat covers, soft moulded roof liners and a mobile-charger point accord greater comfort while driving. A new front grill, rectangular head lamps, electronic combination meter, pleasing interiors and trendy door trims give a refreshing new look to the vehicle. Speaking at the launch of these trucks at Eicher’s Hyderabad dealership, G. Sekar, Director Sales, Eicher Trucks and Buses, said, ‘Eicher products are known in the market for their overall low cost of ownership and the reason for this can be found in what our customer’ term as the Eicher advantage. At the core of the Eicher advantage is the vehicle’s highly-rated fuel efficiency.’ ■

Gas highways in the offing


ndia’s nascent gas-economy receive a headstart once the government goes ahead to lay a network of pipelines along current and upcoming highways. According to some reports, the Oil ministry is toying with the idea of either appointing an apex agency like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) or a board consisting of various stakeholders. An alternate idea could be to allow the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) to lay the pipelines as it has done along the Hazira-VijaypurJagdishpur corridor. Private sector major, Reliance Industries Limited has also built a pipeline from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Bharuch in Gujarat. Thus far, these two

players have had a virtual monopoly on gas distribution. But, so far, they have not taken natural gas to non-industrial regions or for that matter, built enough pipelines to make distribution commensurate with an expected doubling of domestic gas

production over the next six months. The new government has ambitious plans to build 20 kms of highways a day. And, it already has a 70,000 km of highways already operational. As such, land across most of the country is already at its disposal. This should allow pipelines to be laid out without a fuss. The government could help fund these projects through budgetary allocations and funding arrangements with multilateral organisations. It may also impose a cess of USD 0.2 per British Thermal Unit (BTU) of natural gas produced domestically. This will rake in revenues of Rs 3,000 crore, helping build 500-600 kms of roads. ■

CV monitor / news

news / cv monitor

Ashok Leyland bullish on Hinduja Foundries to go CNG vehicles for rights issue


ndia’s second largest CV manufacturer, Ashok Leyland Limited is according greater focus on development of CNG powered vehicles. The move follows on account of various reports predicting the availability of natural gas from Reliance’s Krishna Godavari basin to double this year. The company is also in preliminary talks with Reliance Industry Limited (RIL) regarding the state of future availability of the fuel in the country. R. Seshasayee, MD of Ashok Leyland as well as a Reliance spokesperson have confirmed this. Ashok Leyland has close to 5,600 CNG buses operating in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and various foreign markets. Introduction of vehicles running on CNG-Hydrogen blend (with increased efficiency and low emissions), as well as India’s first MPFI (Multi Point Fuel Injection) CNG engines for heavy vehicles are some of the Ashok Leyland’s proud achievements. RIL’s two-month old KG Basin is expected to ramp up production capacity to over 80 million metric standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd) of natural gas by the end of this year. This will double India’s natural gas supply to 200 mmscmd. ■


20 / Commercial Vehicle / juLY 2009


he National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has identified 131 locations frequented by India’s 5 million-strong truckers in order to spread awareness on the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Launched under its National AIDS Control Programme-III, the recent drive will focus on promoting the use of condoms


sum of 40-50 crores is expected to be raised by Hinduja Foundries through a rights issue. A rights issue is an offer of shares to existing shareholders at a determined ratio and price. Ashok Leyland, which owns 18.34 percent of Hinduja Foundries, is also the company’s main customer. The former is expected to subscribe largely to the rights issue, in order to help the latter tide over funding issues. Ashok Leyland saw its profits dip by 70 percent in 2008-09, as demand dried up because of the overall economic downturn. This has adversely affected Hinduja Foundries. The company which was forced to reduce its schedule to 17-18 working days in November 2008. This explains net sales of Rs 57.97 crore in the quarter ended December 2008, as against 106.45 crores, a year before. In this context, the company has piled up a debt of Rs 300 crore. Hope is strong for the demand to pick up by the third or fourth quarter of the coming fiscal. ■

Himachal Pradesh to purchase 75 mini buses he state government of Himachal Pradesh has decided to buy 75 mini-buses to bolster the public transport system in the capital city of Shimla. This bulk purchase will need an investment of Rs 6.75 crore, which will be provided by the centre in two instalments. The state government has already received the first instalment of Rs 3.04 crore. Officials in the state transportation ministry informed that the mini-buses will be developed on the lines of deluxe buses with an aim to encourage citizens using private transport to switch over to public transport. The state government is also contemplating spending another Rs 41.5 crore to buy 325 new buses for intercity transport. ■

NACO launches AIDS awareness programme for truckers to guard against the spread of HIV/ AIDS. NACO has allied with logistics company, Transport Corporation of India (TCI) in the area of technical support during the programme. TCI has already been undertaking its own AIDS awareness programme, ‘Project Kavach’ under funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This project h a s cove r e d truckers operating in National Highway 2 and 9. In Delhi, the Delhi State AIDS Control Society has been tasked with identifying NGOs to quell the HIV

menace. Though truck movement is restricted within the city, there is still a floating population of 35,000 truckers. On account of their unsafe sexual practices truckers are three times more susceptible to HIV/AIDS, relative to the national average. Since they spend long hours on the road and away from their regular partners, they solicit sex from sex workers, who have a high incidence of HIV infection. Not only do truckers get infected in this manner, they pass on the same to their regular partners, as well as non-infected sex workers. The result is the spread of infection from a few high density areas to others that have traditionally not been exposed to the malaise. Sex workers are 10 times more vulnerable to infection, while women as a whole account for 40 percent of India’s 2.3 million HIV positive population. ■

ICBC convicts Indian-origin driving school owner


British court proved Kamal Singh, the owner of Surrey’s South West Driving Academy Ltd guilty of using forged documents to help obtain a B.C Learners’ Permit and Class 1 truck driver’s license for his wards. Kamal Singh will now face 15 months under house arrest. The charge holds Singh guilty of using forged documents in the June 1, 2006, and May 31, 2007 period. He used ingenious methods such as squirting mustard on the forged Punjabi driving history transcripts to make them look old and authentic. This has been confirmed by government officials in India in their disposition with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). The incident prompted officials to probe further into the outlined driving licenses and sup-

porting documents. An undercover cop found out that a fake Indian police letter and court letter was easily available for a sum of USD 400. Kamal Singh even had suggestions that taking tests in remote areas where the staff is not so wellinformed about commercial requirements would help get the ‘job’ done faster. After extensive verification, a total of 167 drivers were invalidated. Forensic tests revealed that several forged documents, supposedly from Punjab were printed on American-made paper. Further

more, most forged signatures, seals and logos were identical. The driving school was shut down by ICBC authorities and Singh won’t be able to work in any driving schools henceforth. ■

CV monitor / news

Mahindra banks on Africa


ahindra and Mahindra is banking on African markets to compensate for its losses in the United States. The company is in the process of setting up an assembly plant in Africa. The SKD kits will be exported from India. The initial focus is going to be on main African markets such as Mali, Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia. ‘Africans import more than a third of their tractors, and their inclination to strong brand loyalty is expected to rake in profits for Mahindra,’ said a company executive. The lull in the housing industry has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the demand for tractors. Moreover, demand from the farm sector has also come down. M&M’s subsidiary, Mahindra USA has sold more than 60,000 tractors during its 12-year presence in the country. Most offerings fall in the 25 - 40 HP range for the USA market. In 2008-09, Mahindra has posted a growth of 25 percent growth in volumes. The figure which stands at 1.13 lakh units includes eight month sales of Punjab Tractors’ Swaraj brand as well. The figure is impressive since overall Indian tractor sales grew by only 0.5 percent to 3.03 lakh units. Post-merger with Punjab Tractors, Mahindra boasts of 40.6 percent market share. Mahindra’s capacity of 1.3 lakh units from their four plants has also got augmented by Punjab Tractors’ 60,000 unit capacity out of its two facilities. Global acquisitions of a major stake in Jianglin Tractors have made Mahindra strong in China also. Mahindra China Tractor and Yancheng Tractors, the two Chinese ventures have a combined capacity of more than 50,000 tractors. With a large Indian stronghold, Mahindra is on track to increase their presence in markets like China, America and Australia as well. ■

22 / Commercial Vehicle / juLY 2009

news / cv monitor

KSRTC to ply Mercedes buses soon


new feather in its cap for the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) arrived in the form of an especially designed air-conditioned Mercedes - Benz bus, the first among STUs to opt for one. Launching the hi-tech bus service in Bangalore, Transport Minister R Ashoka said, ‘We will put buses on trails and depending on the result will decide to introduce more such buses.’ The trial run of three months will be done conducted on the Bangalore-Mysore route and if successful, KSRTC will roll out Mercedes Benz buses on the Bangalore –Chennai and Bangalore-Mumbai route. The bus boasts of full air suspension, ergonomically designed executive seats, twin LCD screens, four emergency exits and a plethora of international standard features. On-board snacks will also be provided to the passengers. The drivers have undergone a special training at a center in Pune. The buses will cost Rs.65 lakh apiece. KSRTC has received a grant of Rs 16 crore from the centre recently. Bus depots are to get a facelift at a cost of 100 crore, while a total number of 2,250 buses for KSRTC and 1,000 buses for Bangalore’s BMTC are on the cards. The minister refuted the charge that rural buses are neglected in the state. He cited that out of the total number of 20,000 buses, only 5,000 run in cities. ‘Bus replacement will continue to happen on rural routes,’ he said. The minister further said, action will be taken soon on the discrepancies in driving schools and the scrapping of inefficient old buses. ■

Chennai moves to check malpractices by auto drivers


he Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP) has come up with a genuine express complaint system to check unruly auto-drivers in the city. For any kind of abuse such as overcharging, verbal abuse, refusal to ply or rash driving, all that the affected passenger has to do is to write down the three-wheeler’s registration number with a complaint on a simple post card. The complaint cards will be made available at convenient locations including major banks, bus stands, shopping malls and railway stations. The cards are to be posted after affixing a postage stamp and are then sent to the additional Commissioner of Traffic, who will speed up actions against the offending driver. The ground reality however is very bad in Chennai as hardly any auto driver goes by the meter. A syndicate forces newer drivers to comply too, making passengers miserable en masse. The new system aims to curb these anomalies, as traffic officers have been told to hold regular meetings with auto-drivers to effectively implement the system. Officials can then identify regular offenders and take stringent action against them. ■

Allison Transmissions sets up customisation center


llison Transmission India Pvt. Ltd has established a customisation center, in Chennai, with Capricorn Logistics Pvt Ltd, one of the leaders in 3PL service support. Capricorn will provide the 3PL (Third Party Logistics) services like warehousing, packaging, distribution, logistics and other

value-added SCM solutions for Allison products in India. Incidentally, Allison is already setting up a manufacturing plant at Oragadam, Chennai - a 100 percent EOU facility, currently nearing completion since breaking ground last January. Transmission parts and support equipment for the Indian market will be imported from the Netherlands, USA, and will also be procured locally. ‘To take our long journey in India to the next level, we are happy to announce the customisation center,’ explained Ram S. Amarnath, managing director, Allison Transmissions India Pvt Ltd in Chennai.

Allison Transmission has a long association of more than four decades in India providing technology to the Indian mining and oil field industries. To capitalise on the expanding on-highway markets, Allison has established permanent offices in India in 2007. Allison Transmission India Pvt Ltd has made great strides in Indian roads with its automatic transmissions successfully running on low-floor CNG and diesel buses in major Indian cities as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and many others. Allison, founded in 1915, employs approx 2,700 people worldwide with HQ at Indianapolis, USA. The company has over 1,500 distributors and dealers across geographies, with regional Headquarters in China, Netherlands, Brazil, India and Japan. Their chief Indian OEM customers include Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, JCBL and Lexia Motors. ■ juLY 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 23

wide horizons

Harsha wheels

harsha wheels / wide horizons

Harsha Wheels has offered its products to 12 STUs including the West Bengal Transport Corporation.

Harsha Wheels gets into motion The Bangalore- based bus and special vehicles maker is set to explore new products and partners. Along the way, the operations will scale up too.


Story and photography Ram Kumar Ramaswamy arsha Wheel Movers Pvt Ltd may be located rather unassumingly amidst Bangalore’s IT sprawl, but the footprint is big enough. Since its inception in 1991, it has put out 24 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

more than 10,000 buses (12 - 65 seaters) and special vehicles. Sales have been evenly split between STUs (35 percent), private operators (30 percent), school buses (20 percent) and special application vehicles (15 percent). At the moment, virtu-

ally 75 percent of the 600 buses made each year by Harsha Wheels are based on ALL chassis – considering that the latter has an arrangement with the former to make fully built vehicles. That is not to say that the body builder disfavours Tata Motors,

Eicher Motors, Force Motors and Swaraj Mazda chassis. Harsha Wheels was founded by Ashok Sharma, who was also instrumental in setting up Azad Coach Builders and Jaico Automobile in 1979. That spirit of entrepreneurship is being taken forward by his IIM graduate son Neeraj Sharma. He discloses plans to rope in a European chassis maker into India. ‘We are engaged in doing a prototype on one of their chassis. If things go well, Harsha Wheels could enter into a JV with this European chassis maker to offer buses in India as well as the SAARC region.’ In the same vein of ambition, Sharma intends to triple production at Bangalore. ‘We have a 4 acre plot that can be deployed to add 100 buses a month in capacity to our current tally of 50 buses a month. The groundwork has been laid for this effort. If market conditions keep improving, just as we hopefully get into the JV, the new production facility could be kickstarted in two years,’ adds Sharma. During the slowdown, Harsha Wheels had seen a dip in sales, but in the wake of the government’s stimulus plans for STUs, business has started looking up again. Funding under the JNNURM could unleash demand for some 15,000-20,000 buses from STUs within the next 6-12 months. Having supplied semi-low floor buses to BMTC and the PMT, the body builder is looking

Harsha Wheels’ founder Ashok Sharma has been assocaited with the bus body building industry since 1979.

Neeraj Sharma is currently busy in trying to rope in an European chassis maker.

at new orders. There is also confidence in terms of having served the STU market well. It has had repeat orders from as many as 12 STUs across India. ‘Since our overheads are very low, we have been able to deliver a price advantage. This has been the main reason for cracking so many government tenders, from states as varied as Karnataka, Maharashtra West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir,’ says Ashok Sharma. Staying on buses, Harsha Wheels specialises in school buses – having made them for 250 educational institutions in Karnataka. Thus far, the buses have been sold under the ‘Harsha School bus’ brand.

Now, the ‘Happy School’ brand is all set to be launched. These buses will come with safety features like ‘stop’ sign boards, buzzers, anti-skid flooring, an emergency exit, bag rack and speed governors. Actually these features are part of Harsha Wheels’ proactive moves towards bus code compliance. ‘About 6 or 8 years ago, buses were made very shoddily. There were no shower or anti-corrosion tests. The sheet metal or the weld quality was poor too. But with the bus code on the anvil, we are starting to see an improvement on these fronts. Yet, progress has not been as fast as one would want it to be. On our part though, we are not allowing the recession to hamper our R&D efforts. In meeting the Bus Code, we are expecting an ISO certification too,’ opines Ashok Sharma. But he feels that implementation of the bus code will not just be dependent on technology alone. There is a commensurate need for trained manpower. ‘I humbly appeal to the government as well as technical institutions to offer a course in bus body building. This will surely bridge the knowledge gap,’ appeals Ashok Sharma.

Harsha Wheels has also developed some buses for Pune’s PMPML.

Focus on applications Reefers are on the cards. The market for reefers is estimated to be 500 vehicles per annum. Only 50 percent of this market is being met locally and less than 15 percent of the products are international standard. ‘Reefers in India only chill. They do not freeze. Their temperature only goes down to 12 degree Celsius; whereas internationjuly 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 25

wide horizons / harsha wheels With Ashok Leyland being a major customer, the Lynx has been a popular platform for Harsha Wheels.

ally, reefers can maintain temperatures of – 15 to -18 degree Celsius. Unless we do the same in India, manufacturers will continue to take 10-15 percent losses in perishables such as milk, butter, meat and roses,’ asserts Neeraj Sharma. The way to modernise reefers is to switch from steel to aluminium panels. Secondly, there is a need to use better insulating material. Harsha Wheels which made a few reefer prototypes in the 1990s, is now considering getting back into the business. ‘We will import quality sandwich panels from a Thai vendor. Starting late next year, we could start selling reefers in India. The target is to sell 200-300 units per year to cold chain operators in the near term,’ reveals

Neeraj Sharma. Harsha Wheels has also been known for its special vehicles. It has designed and fabricated mobile clinics, laboratories, coaching centers, aircraft high-loaders, mini fire fighters, cash vans, TV Broadcast vehicles, staff transporters as well as luxury caravans. ‘We have made a special mobile clinic as part of Hewlett Packard’s CSR initiative. We have developed cancer detection units, chemically treated toilets, platform for computers, overhead solar panels and water storage facilities,’ says Neeraj Sharma. A mobile diabetic foot and vascular evacuation clinic was made in 2007 for a Bangalore hospital, which includes an in-

house cobbler’s facility for crafting footsupports. This has become so popular that, the World Diabetes Foundation in Denmark is thinking of replicating the model in other countries. Recently, a Harsha Wheels built mobile gymnasium was stationed at high terrain for the Indian army. The trailer-mounted HVAC insulated gym comes compactly packed with weight training equipments and basic medical amenities. ‘There is no rocket science involved in it. Every bus is after all, built of sheet metal, rivets and welds. But, the desire to innovate and make a mark in the industry is what drives us to unique offerings like these,’ asserts Neeraj Sharma. Talking of unique vehicles, Harsha Wheels has made horse carriage trucks for the police, as well as dog sterilisation vans for PETA. Among the many ‘firsts’ to the company’s credit is South Asia’s first aircraft hi-loader built for the Nagpur airport in 2002. Harsha Wheels has also developed a mini fire-tender based on a Tata 207 and Ace. The exports front too has seen an eclectic contribution from Harsha Wheels. A mobile fruit-processing and bakery demonstration vehicle packed with a juicer, mixer, bottling plant and a baking oven, has been developed to teach rural South Africans the art of baking and juice making as a means of livelihood. ‘In India, there are only 2-3 body builders who can put out the range of vehicles that we can,’ claims Neeraj Sharma. We started this piece by telling you that this company has a large footprint! ■

A broadcast van that has been designed for the electronic media.

A mobile clinic put together by Harsha Wheels.

26 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

Value addition

Volvo Consultancy Services

volvo consultancy services / value addition

Volvo to introduce telematics solutions

tion among enlightened customers like the BMTC that the bus is just one aspect of an intelligent transport system,’ explains Akash Passey, MD, VBIPL. The ITS4mobility solution consists of two modules - a vehicle location monitoring system and a passenger information system – a customer may opt for either or both. On the bus is a vehicle telematics system which consists of a vehicle computer, display, GPS or GPRS modem and a keypad. Using a multiplexing architecture, the vehicle telematics system is linked with the traffic control station of the fleet operator. Either end may use it to call or send text messages to the other. This helps to monitor punctuality and automatically identify the location of the buses as well as others in the vicinity. Safety is assured too. Drivers can also press a panic button to call for backup in case of an emergency. What is more, windows-based applications with various graphic interfaces, for instance between maps and GIS (Geographic Information System) can allow alternate routes to be taken if the regular ones are trafficstricken. Passengers too benefit from access to electronic destination signboards, announcement of the next bus stop and arrival/departure displays at the bus stop. All information is presented in real time, with updation of software and databases being wireless.

The ITS4 Mobility Solution can help the operator map the whole grid in which the fleet operates.

Using the first module, fleet operators can also store historical data for eventual analysis. Besides records of punctuality, route deviation and stop times, the telematics system can also drive in other important parameters of efficiency. These include frequency of braking, acceleration and even the number of times the door of the air-conditioned bus is opened. ‘We want to couple our traditional stand of ‘driving change’ with another one - ‘creating value’. Customers can maximise value from our products, if they are receptive to change and open in sharing information. Under optimal use, our mobility solu-

Many countries in Europe use the system to improve the quality of public transport services.

The aim is to make transport solutions intelligent. Volvo’s ITS4mobility solutions will make bus services more efficient for passengers while driving down operating costs for the fleet operator.


olvo Buses India Private Limited (VBIPL) had recently announced that it intends to derive 50 percent of its revenues from value streams other than sales of its premium buses. These include spares, service, en28 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

Story Sridhar Chari tertainment systems and of course Volvo Consultancy Services (VCS). The last one is the most interesting. Among other things, VCS aims to improve the efficiency of customer fleets by use of the Volvo ITS4Mobility Solution. VBIPL is piloting this system on certain Banga-

lore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses for a period of six months. Incidentally, the BMTC has now bought over 300 Volvo city buses. ‘Until recently, acquiring a bus was considered the only necessary thing for running public transport services. But now, there is a realisa-

Akash Passey had earlier told us that in the medium term, Volvo intends to garner 50 percent of its revenues from softer streams like the consultancy business.

tions can save customers like the BMTC anywhere from 5-20 percent in operating expenditure, even while fleet schedules get optimised,’ claims Passey. If these claims are to be taken at face value, the investment on the mobility solutions should be recovered fairly fast. Volvo claims that it would cost no more than 5-10 percent of the (approx) Rs 70 lakh Volvo City bus. But the one question that may be asked of Volvo is, why should a customer opt for the ITS4Mobility Solutions when there are a range of telematics solutions available in the market? ‘Customers are free to opt for other telematics systems. However, it may be worth noting that Volvo’s own buses july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 29

value addition / volvo consultancy services

The Passenger Information System informs passengers about precise arrival and departure times.

are factory-prepared for fitting the system, with space reserved for in-vehicle terminal, making installation and later, maintenance easier and quicker. Secondly, we are quite open to working with local hardware and software suppliers depending on customer needs,’ answers Passey. What is more, the telematics systems can be used on buses of makes besides Volvo too. VBIPL backs up its technology with some solid on-the ground efforts. Its 38 service centres, help keep fleets up and running, while its own facility in Hoskote has trained almost 5,500 bus drivers since 2001. The use of this telematics system has global precedents. In Göteborg, for example, ITS4mobility is now being used to control the movements of about 400 vehicles, including buses, trams and crossharbour ferries, with an option for 1,400 more. Having bought the Volvo BRT system in 2005, Mexico City now operates 100 buses, including 12 super-long, biarticulated models serving a high demand route, carrying 3,30,000 passengers a day at intervals of one minute each. The journey time for the 20 kilometre route as been halved and the traffic situation greatly improved through better flows, despite the 30 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

loss of a lane, increasing the average speed of the cars significantly. In the Brazilian city of Goiânia, however, the company’s ITS4mobility system is being used to manage 1,400 buses of another make on the road. The year ahead Looking at prospects for this year, Volvo presents a picture of guarded optimism. ‘The private sector is down 30 percent because of the finance crunch. So we may

The control room can ensure proper intervals between buses, since they can monitor movements on a real time basis

only see sales of 100-200 intercity buses this year. But so far as city buses are concerned, we may close the year with 300500 buses on demand from STUs buying under JNNURM funding,’ reveals Passey. The total demand for 400-700 buses can be easily met. ‘While we will take until April 2010 to reach our targeted capacity of 1,000 buses, demand for the current year can be satisfied with our existing production schedules,’ adds Passey. Volvo rolls on. ■

in perspective

SAFE convention

safe convention / in perspective

Delegates at the convention ranged from auto manufacturers, inspection and maintenance equipment providers and public authorities.

Road-worthiness: Need of the hour The recent SAFE Annual Convention held in Hyderabad, brought to light, how a combination of enforcement and education can help ensure the health of both vehicles and commuters.


Story Ram Kumar Ramaswamy n India, road area as percentage of urban sprawl is abysmally low at 11.2 percent. And what is worse, as many as 40-50 percent of India’s vehicle population – tens of millions in number- can be deemed to be 32 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

non-roadworthy. It is therefore not surprising that there are 90,000 deaths from accidents each year. Road- worthiness of the commercial vehicles is ascertained by the system of inspection of the vehicle mostly done visually. Certain parameters

related to safety and emissions are evaluated mechanically to certify the vehicles as safe and fit to ply on the road. But this is system is grossly inadequate when taken in the context of the 4 million trucks plying in India.

There is a need for a robust Inspection and Certification regulations in all states in India which should also be rigorously enforced. The government of India is working on a model inspection and certification centre to be set up in each state. Many developed countries have achieved drop in road accidents and casualties by adopting multi-pronged approach to road safety that encompasses a broad range of measures, such as traffic management, road design, and quality infrastructure with safer and well maintained vehicles coupled with strict law enforcement and provision of accident care centres. It is against this background that the SAFE Annual Convention 2009 was held in Hyderabad between June 16-17 under the theme, ‘Safety through enforcement and inspection and certification’. SAFE, standing for Society for Automotive Fitness and Environment, is an initiative by SIAM. It brings together officials belonging to streams such as transport, police, environment, auto component and automobile manufacturers and NGOs, working towards road safety Education is as important as enforcement in the drive to curtail defaults on the road. N.V. Surindra Babu, Additional Commissioner of Police, Government of AP said that ratio of traffic police to the population is totally inadequate. And even technology is only helpful to a lim-

Unlike in India (below), Korea sees high adherence to lane discipline despite high traffic.

ited extent. The Hyderabad Traffic Police have been resorting to e-challans, which are generated automatically, when the 50 video cameras and the 100 digital cameras detect violations. Since the detections have improved, more challans were issued than ever before, but that has not proven to be a deterrent to the violations occurring in the first place! However, when the traffic cops’ time was utilised more effectively in educating and controlling traffic during peak hours, the number of challans issued fell by 35 percent from the 20,000 issued each year since 2006. What will help prevent violations in a

Cameras help to check traffic violations in Hyderabad, leading to the issue of e-challans.

A typically clogged road in India.

better manner is a reduction in corruption during enforcement of traffic rules. Alvin Mejia, researcher with the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities, Philippines, threw great light on the inspection and maintenance regime in South East Asia. While Singapore’s vehicles have achieved a 91 percent passing rate for road worthiness as against a figure of 75 percent a decade, on the strength of sheer enforcement, that is not the case in many other countries. Rupiah 5,000 can steer a truck clear on Indonesian roads, despite a flat battery and a worn out radiator! Recently, the Malaysian Government sacked more than 20 traffic police officers on charges of corruption. Best Practices Keynote speakers



july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 33

in perspective / safe convention

safe convention / in perspective

Tell-tale tests

Test results as seen on a dynamometer.

Snapshots of tests conducted by Van Leeuwen Test Systems BV in integrated test lanes. Side Slip test Measurement of the alignment of wheels on axle (toe-in or toeout) in mm/m Roller Brake test Measured aspects: Brake force per wheel, bind and ovality per wheel, imbalance per axle. And calculated aspect: braking efficiency for axle / vehicle. Suspension test Measured aspects: Road contact value per wheel, tyre rigidity per wheel, frequency at lowest road contact value - available with automatic drive - over protection plates for heavy vehicles (greater than 2,500 kg axle weight. Cornelis Van Leewen highlighted the need to have an integrated test track, where a vehicle can undergo different fitness tests in on go.

Dr. Klukas, spoke about SGS SA’s role in monitoring the fitness of vehicles in South Africa and Thailand.

countries spoke on global best practices that can be useful in India. In his presentation, Cornelis Van Leeuwen, MD of Van Leeuwen Test Systems B.V, spoke about an inspection and maintenance regime that consists of various tests see (Tell-tale tests). The company integrates these tests and offers ‘Test Lanes’ in which all tests can be accomplished in one go. At the beginning of the test lane, the vehicle’s inspection history is visible in a system. This data can be retrieved from a central government database. As soon as the vehicle undergoes all tests and reaches the other end, a computer terminal prints out the road-worthiness certificate in a jiffy! Van Leeuwen Test Systems has helped set up

such a regime in countries like Malaysia, Brazil, South Africa and Singapore. Dr. -Ing Thomas Klukas, VP, Automotive Services, SGS SA spoke about what his company has achieved in Ireland. The average age of the national fleet of vehicles in Ireland has increased by a solid 13 months over a 4 year period. The enforcement has brought about notable improvements in repair standards and customer satisfaction, thus completing as much as 94 percent of the target, within the first two years. With a global presence across developed and developing nations, and a total of 36 million transactions annually, SGS intends to offer its services in India as well. A roller brake test rig.

Emission test Measured aspects: Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxygen, hydrocarbons and nitrous emissions Diesel smoke test Measures opacity of diesel smoke with free acceleration method. RPM can be measured with wireless RPM device for calculations Chassis Dynamometer Smoke test (CDST) Measures opacity of diesel smoke when vehicle engine is under load (road conditions). This test is not in common use yet, but will get popular since it gives accurate results, especially in vehicles with tandem driven axles. Headlight beam test Measured aspects: Horizontal alignment, vertical alignment, and light intensity - of lowbeam, high-beam and auxiliary lamps. The entire test is fully automated. The driver only has to switch lights on/off when prompted Free roller set Used for testing vehicles with driven tandem axles on roller brake tester or speedometer tester. Wheels of axle not under test can rotate freely in both directions. Speedometer / Taximeter tests Checks the vehicle speedometer’s accuracy. It can also be used to check speed limiter and speed warning devices. Similarly, the taxi meters can be checked for accuracy relative to time and/or distance). Sound level test Checks sound level of the vehicle exhaust system. Visual inspection Careful inspection of under-carriage items, windows, windscreen wipers, tyres etc. All failed items can be selected on a special membrane keyboard, or on a touchscreen monitor. Failed items are listed on the test report. The inspector’s name is automatically stored with test results.

34 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

A vehicle fitness certificate issued by UK’s Vosa

Hans-Jurgen Schimpgen, the Head of International Expansion of TUV SUD Auto Service GmbH laid stress on the road transport sustainability chain. Hans-Jurgen presented milestones achieved by TUV in Turkey, where 189 vehicle installation stations armed with approximately 5,000 test equipment have achieved noteworthy success in the inspection and certification processes. The independent third party inspector service provider intends to replicate this model in India as well. ‘A joint model of working may be laid out and may be expected to be up and running in India within 5 years’, said Schimpgen. According to TUV, the road worthiness graph plummets considerably as vehicles age. Up to 70 percent of vehicles are found to have considerable defects in their 5th inspection, as against 25 percent during the first. This demands more structured and shorter inter-

vals for ageing vehicles. Schimpgen feels that there ought to be intensive training for inspection officials empowering them to treat every vehicle as uniquely as possible. Telematics – as a preventive tool The above processes are after all detection-oriented. There is a need to ensure that commercial vehicle fleets guard against damage to vehicles as much as possible. Telematics can help do the job by allowing the truck/bus operator to keep track of key operating parameters in advance of damage. Moreover, effective route planning for buses will help smoothen the flow of traffic. This is in a nutshell represents Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). Soumith Mukund, Sr. Manager - Marketing, Ashok Leyland Ltd explained how the Ashok Leyland ‘Alert’ works behind the scenes to bring about ITS. A small OBU (On Board Unit) fitted on the bus captures and transmits information through a satellite which is collected and then routed through a data centre (Ashok Leyland’s state-of-the-art data centre at Ennore) onto a control room monitor (at the operator’s). On this monitor, with the help of a map, the bus can be traced and tracked on a real time basis. The information provided includes the exact location of the bus, the speed it is travelling at and the direction it is headed in. It is also a twoway communication system: the driver can call the control centre if he gets caught in a jam or suffers a breakdown. One of the

biggest advantages is that it can help prevent bunching: i.e., buses of same route numbers running next to each other at very short intervals. Based on this information, the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) of the bus is flashed on a display system at the bus stop so that those waiting can know exactly when the next bus is expected. For outstation passengers, even the vacancy status can be intimated! At present, the Alert is run as a pilot project on 545 Madras Transport Corporation buses within the city of Chennai and 55 State Express Transport Corporation (Tamil Nadu) buses on the Chennai-Trichy sector. So far as trucks are concerned, Ashok Leyland’s ALERT can monitor gear shifts, fuel pilferage monitoring, online diagnostics and prognostics, route optimisation, telemetry and infotainment services. ■

Telematics systems such as Ashok Leyland’s Alert can help ensure vehicle health through constant diagnostics inputs.

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 35

Cover story

man force trucks

MAn Force trucks / Cover story

Back MAN with FORCE a bang

This is MAN FORCE TRUCKS’ second innings. But, looked at from the right perspective, the initial setback may have been a blessing in disguise. The company now has trucks and sooner, rather than later, buses that will meet the needs of the masses as well as the classes.

Story Sridhar Chari Photography Sawan Sekhar Hembram

introspection over the past year or so. It was much needed too. In 2006, the then 70:30 JV between Force Motors and German CV major MAN Nutzfahrzeuge had taken off amidst the prevailing economic boom. In keeping with the spirit of optimism, a new facility with a designated annual capacity to produce 24,000 state-of-the-art trucks and buses came out in Pithampur. But the performance did not stand up to the high expectations – only 1,500 trucks were sold until March 2009. It was not because the trucks were not good enough, in fact, for exactly the opposite reason. When the market was using only Abhay Firodia says that the JV targets to sell 4,500 trucks this year 160HP trucks, capitalintensive 280HP tractors were ahead of the game. MAN FORCE TRUCKS realised that the extra power did not necessarily translate into higher speeds on bad roads or deliver any more payload than what is

You cannot keep a good MAN down – especiallyiftheright kind of FORCE is behind it. That is exactly the impression you get the moment you glimpse the line-up of ‘old’ and new trucks at MAN FORCE TRUCK Pvt Ltd’s (MFTPL) sprawling Pithampur plant. The powerful trio of 280HP tractors under the CLA series - the 49.280 and 25.280 6x4s, as well as the 40.280 4x2 - now have a whole host of mostly younger siblings. They include, the 40.220 4x2 tractor, the 25.220 6x4 tipper, the 25.220 6x2 rigid, the 16.220 4x2 rigid and the 31.280 8x4 tipper. The backbone of the new range is the new 220 HP Euro II compliant 6-cylinder version of the D 0836 engine. It will co-exist with its electronically-governed 6-cylinder 280 HP Euro III compliant stablemate. This twohorse strategy was put into place following 36 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

legally allowed. Hence, the thinking was that, while the premium trucks would be ‘tomorrow’s’ trucks, a newer range would be needed to meet the immediate needs of the Indian market (See ‘More for Less’). ‘In venturing to sell European specification trucks to the Indian market, we could not muster enough volumes and consequently ran losses. Some time in 2008, both partners realised that there was a need to re-think the way we were going about the project. The effort was to be relevant to more than 75 percent of the market as opposed to 25 percent earlier,’ admits Abhay Firodia, Chairman, MAN FORCE TRUCKS Pvt. Ltd. The result of this exercise is of course the use of the 220 HP engine and a lighter driveline (compact axles and 6speed gearbox). Meanwhile, features such as cabin ACs, radial tyres, telematics, airsuspended seats, automatic transmissions and fog lamps have been made available in the ‘optional only’ mode. The localisation drive has also been ramped up to reach a laudable 95 percent (See ‘Impressive Pithampur plant’). To coincide with this fresh thinking, MAN moved to increase its stake to 50 percent in the joint venture by acquiring a 14.2 percent stake from FORCE Motors Ltd for about Rs.300 crore. The fund inflow will render the enterprise value for the entire company in excess of Rs. 2,000 crore. ‘While the initial 30 percent stake acquired by MAN was at par, the next 20 has been at

A tipper tailer application built on the 49.280 tractor.

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 37

Cover story / MAn Force trucks

MAn Force trucks / Cover story The cabins coming in from Force Motors’ facility get fitted on the waiting chassis at the JV’s assembly line.

Stefan Holzman asserts that there has been no compromise in the reliability of trucks and buses put out by MAN Force Trucks, despite the jettisoning of a few peripheral features.

Having gained valuable experience with the CLA range, Sudhir Mehta is raring to have a go at the mass market.

a premium. This indicates that MAN looks upon the JV as more than just an attractive export hub,’ adds Firodia. Incidentally, right from the start, the JV has targeted 50 percent of its production volumes to be exported to markets like South Africa, Middle-East, Russia and FarEast Asia. The change of shareholding will see

some changes in the management as well. According to the agreement, Force Motors has nominated the Chairman, whereas, MAN has nominated the Vice-Chairman for the JV. There are two Managing Directors from each of the partner companies. The MD from MAN looks after production, technology and logistics, whereas, the Force Motors appointee is responsible for

Some export models waiting to head out as CBUs. MAN FORCE TRUCKS will put out 1,500 trucks in export markets this year.

the balance operations including sales, purchase and finance. The CTO will continue to be a MAN nominee. Both MDs seem to be on the same page. Sudhir Mehta, MD-Commercial of MAN FORCE TRUCKS Pvt Ltd said, ‘We have gained valuable experience in the last 18 months, of manufacturing, selling and supporting over 1,500 units of the hi-tech, MAN CLA range of vehicles, in the Indian market. We are now poised to enter the next phase, of ‘mass marketing’. It is our aim to gain significant market share - in the Haulage Trucks market.’ Speaking to the magazine, Stefan Holzmann, MD – Technical of the JV said, ‘Though initially our emphasis was to bring higher power density and premium cabs to the Indian market, we have now arrived at a more market friendly solution retaining the highest standards that MAN adheres to, while removing some of peripheral features from the truck. The power density has been appropriately moderated, to provide top class fuel efficiency without compromising reliability. For MAN, 100 percent reliability is a way of life’.

Impressive Pithampur plant

Technology simplified



t 3,43,000 square meters in total area and with 43,000 square meters of covered space, the Pithampur facility is massive. It can be divided into four sections. There is an aggregate manufacturing and machining area. Adjacent to it is another area, which assembles the chassis, trims cabins and then tests the whole unit. On the opposite side of the road is the Truck in the Box (TIB) facility that puts together SKD/MKD kits for exports. Behind this whole complex is Force Motors’ own facility that, besides making its UVs and maxivans, also supplies cabins and transmissions to MFTPL. Getting into the aggregates area, we spot rows of engines, crank beams, front and rear axles of differing dimensions to ensure optimum ground clearance, load bearing and power transmission. Moving further inside, the sight of a large hall, neatly aligned into two segments – one each for axle and engine assembly comes into view. Workers go about their business with minimum fuss. We are informed that each one holds at least a BSc degree or a technical diploma, and some 200-300 of them have been trained in Germany. They receive help from ample infusions of technology. The torque turning operations are computerised, allowing tracking of values of torquing done 6 months ago. Similarly, the fuel injection pump alignment can be viewed on a large screen, thereby taking guesswork out of the equation. The machining area brings us to the cylinder blocks. The initial problems relating to the supply of continued on pg. 41 38 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

ore to the MAN Force range is the D08 engine family. The D0834 four-cylinder unit displaces 4,580cc, while the D0836 six-cylinder engine has a capacity of 6,870cc. Both mills share The D08 series is easily capable of being upgraded to meet Euro IV norms. common bore centres and the same cylinder dimensions of 108 x 125mm providing flexibility on the machine lines in an efficient manner. Both engines can be easily upgraded to Euro IV norms, relying on a common-rail electronic architecture. The turbocharged and intercooled 280HP engine employs electronically-controlled Bosch VP44 fuel injection pump with EDC MS 6.4 for accurate and precise fuel injection at various loads and engine speeds to deliver very high fuel efficiency. The D08 series of engines features MAN’s patented EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) continued on pg. 41 july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 39

Cover story / MAn Force trucks

MAn Force trucks / Cover story

A tanker application developed on the 40.280 tanker.

thrown by just about any mine. Moving down the chain, the 25.220 6x4 tipper and the 16.220 4x2 tipper should be more than competent to perform lighter duties. MFTPL intends to set up a tipper facility in the same manufacturing complex to ensure that it can offer quality fully-built offerings to customers. Other fully-built vehicles in the shape of bulkers, tip trailers and concrete mixers will come out shortly thereafter. MAN Nutzfahrzuege boasts of no fewer than 3,000 fully-built vehicle applications. Interestingly, while MAN has come out with the 25.220 6x2 rigid, it has rolled out no 16 tonne 4x2 rigid. This is indicative of

Prasan Firodia is a key operations man at both Force Motors and MAN FORCE TRUCKS.

Immediate plans Not only has MFTPL made its trucks that much more accessible to Indian standards, but it has also filled gaps in its product portfolio. Even when sales were at low ebb during the past two years, the JV saw that tippers were still raking 60 percent of volumes from the iron-ore and coal mining segments. Therefore, it has decided to accord special attention to tippers in its second innings. Take the aggressively-priced 31.280 8x4 tipper for instance. A brute of a machine, its 18 cubic metre rock body should be able to take on the challenges 40 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

the JV’s mood. ‘The 50,000 unit strong, 16-tonne segment is a declining and pricedriven one. With the level of technology that we bring in, we would not like to be caught up in it just yet. However, we are not ruling out entry into it either,’ explains Firodia. For the record, the company has a four-cylinder 180 HP Euro III compliant engine that can be used to address such future needs. Indications are that if and when MFTPL decides to get into 16-tonne and below trucks, the new offerings may be branded ‘FORCE’ instead of ‘MAN’ as currently. All in all, both focus and ambition have returned to the company. ‘We expect to put out 4,500 trucks this year, which is still beset by a slowdown. While 3,000 will be sold in the domestic market, 1,500 will come from export markets. We can ramp up to full capacity of 24,000 trucks within 2-3 years, if the market so desires,’ states Firodia. To take the trucks to the market in the true sense of the term, MFTPL has been conducting a road show since May. To conclude this month, the market-access programme has allowed 20,000 customers and as many as 6,000 dealers, financers, mechanics, brokers and other opinion leaders to touch and feel the trucks. Simultaneously, a distribution network of 30 main dealers (3S) and 40 associate dealers (2S) has been set up. It is to be noted that FORCE Motors itself has a distribution network of 225 dealers. A total of 100 mobile service vans will be placed on The 31.280 8x4 rock body tipper can take on the challenges thrown up by just about any mine.

continues from pg. 39

The frame is reversed for the axles to be fitted.

continues from pg. 39 (Pithampur plant)

these cast engine components has now been resolved. The blocks come from an Indian and Turkish supplier acquainted with MAN in Europe. Once the castings arrive, machining is performed at MFTPL. Robots tighten locks on the cylinder blocks, while others at an adjacent station lift heavy parts – doing away the need for overhead cranes. Such is the quality of these blocks now that some 300 units have already been exported to MAN in Germany and more are set to cross India’s shores as are some dead axles, trunions and axle housings. Talking of imports, only 5 percent of parts such as harnesses, oil seals and bearings are imported. For the remainder, there are quality local vendors such as Brakes India and WABCO (brake parts), Wheels India (wheel rims), PL Haulwell (fifth wheel coupler) and ZF (6 and 9 speed transmissions put together by Force Motors itself). Meanwhile, the fully assembled engines undergo tests at a dynamometer in line with MAN standards to check for parameters like leakage, NVH, torque and speed. Once the aggregates are ready, they reach the final assembly area. An overhead crane turns upside down the chassis frame, put together by an external supplier. Once the axles get fitted, it reverts to the upright position. The power pack, (combination of engine and gearbox) and suspensions get added to the frame as the chassis starts to wear a complete look. The cabins come in from the Force Motors plant. Depending on whether they are day, low-roof sleepers or high-roof sleepers, they receive appropriate trims, and are then dropped down a line onto a waiting chassis. Following tyre, and oil and battery fitments, the truck is ready to roll. In fact, one such unit can roll out every 10 minutes from the line. Once fully assembled, each truck is tested for 7 km in the track surrounding the factory. continued on pg. 43

The alignment of fuel injection pumps is computerised with a prominent visual display.

system which helps it to be not just Euro III compliant but also helps fuelefficiency and full load acceleration. Notably the EGR The construction of axles is optimised to deliver on in the D08 series parameters like ground clearance and vehicle stability. is also flexible and capable enough to be upgraded to meet impending Euro IV emission levels. The D08 series of engines further incorporate the MAN-patented EVB (Exhaust Valve Brakes) technology which works automatically to stunt engine power with each braking process. This helps ensure a 60 per cent increase in braking efficiency over conventional exhaust brakes found on engines of other truck makers but what will be even more music to operators’ ears and wallets is that brake lining replacement and service costs are drastically reduced thanks to lower wear rates. The CLA 49.280 employs the proven heavy duty 9Besides this 9 speed speed 9S 1110 gearbox which option, MAN includes a special crawler FORCE can also offer a gear and is equipped with 6 speed ZF an electro-pneumatic shift gearbox. actuation which results in car-like positive slotting and without any nasty feedback to the driver during peak load shifts. A fair bit of electronic cum hydraulic control is packed in the gearbox which features planetary gear construction and there is also an electronic module lock to prevent inadvertent shifts and resultant damage to the transmission and axles. As mentioned earlier, a 6-speed ZF gearbox is also available for lower specification trucks. A heavy duty dry 430mm diameter single-plate clutch (made by Jai Hind Industries) with automatic lining readjustment helps for efficient power being released to the twin rear axles. The planetary type heavy duty axles come with hub reduction gears to minimise not just the physical size of the unit but also enhance the life of the internal components. Being compact in its proportions it also delivers more ground clearance allowing the vehicle to traverse indifferent terrain as well. What also marks out these axles is the integrated hub unit which helps brake replacement to be effected without opening the wheel bearings. The service mechanics should love this The steering wheel is detail. Putting more compact to afford a carcontinued on pg. 43

like driving experience.

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 41

Cover story / MAn Force trucks

MAn Force trucks / Cover story

24 X 7 service to attend to an emergency in 2-4 hours. Customers only need to dial the toll free helpline 1800-233-5000. For the haulage trucks, MFTPL offers warranty and free service policy of 24 months or 2,00,000 kms, while there are 6 free services at intervals of 15,000 kms or 60 days. For tippers, there is a warranty of

18 months or 2,000 hours or 1,50,000 kms, while there are 6 free services at an interval of 300 hours or 45 days. The company assures dealers spares within 48 hours of order, while customers would be supplied within 24 hours of the order. The tipper fleet operators may enter into an Annual Labour Contract (ALC), Pre-

continues from pg. 41

ventive Maintenance Contract (PMC) or an Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) for ensuring proper service and maintenance of vehicles at remote sites. To support the dealers, MFTPL will hold float assemblies of key parts/aggregates like engines, gearboxes, fuel pumps, starters and alternators in key cities like Gurgaon, Jaipur, Kolkata,

More for less

A machined cylinder block - some of these will be exported too.



Tractor type

CLA 49.280 6X4 Tractor BSIII CLA 40.280 4X2 Tractor BSIII CLA 40.220 4X2 Tractor BSII

Truck type


6.9 litre 280 Hp BSIII

6.9 litre 280 Hp BSIII

6.9 litre 220 Hp BSII

CLA 25.220 6X2 MAV BSII



9 speed Max torque 1110 Nm

9 speed Max torque 1110 Nm

6 speed Max torque 800 Nm

6.9 litre 220 Hp BSII



Front: Dropdown Axle Rear: MAN Planetary Tandem

Front: Dropdown Axle Rear: MAN Planetary

Front: Dropdown Axle Rear: Meritor Hypoid

6 speed Max torque 800 Nm


Front: Dropdown Axle Rear: Meritor Hypoid

Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with shock absorbers Rear: Bogie type with trapezoidal leaf springs

Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with shock absorbers Rear: Semi elliptical leaf springs solo

Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with shock absorbers Rear: Semi elliptical leaf springs solo


Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with shock absorbers Rear: Semi elliptical leaf springs tandem type


High roof sleeper type

High roof sleeper type

High roof sleeper type


High roof sleeper type


Rs. 24.50 lakh

Priced at Rs. 18.00 lakh

Rs. 15.75 lakh (non AC)


Rs. 14.50 lakh


TIPPERS Tipper type

CLA 31.280 8x4 18cubm Rock body tipper

CLA 25.280 6X4 16cubm Rock body Tipper

CLA 25.280 6X4 16cubm Box body tipper

CLA 25.220 6X4 16cubm Box body tipper

CLA 16.220 4X2 12cubm Box body tipper


6.9 litre 280 Hp BSIII

6.9 liter 280 Hp BSIII

6.9 liter 280 Hp BSIII

6.9 liter 220 Hp BSII

6.9 litre 220 Hp BSII


9 speed Max torque - 1110 Nm

9 speed Max torque - 1110 Nm

9 speed Max torque - 1110 Nm

9 speed Max torque - 800 Nm

6 speed Max torque - 800 Nm


Front: Straight Axle Rear: MAN Planetary Tandem

Front: Straight Axle Rear: MAN Planetary Tandem

Front: Dropdown Axle Rear: MAN Planetary Tandem

Front: Dropdown Axle Rear: MAN Planetary Tandem

Front: Dropdown Axle Rear: MAN Planetary


Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with shock absorbers and anti roll bar Rear: Bogie type

Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with shock absorbers and anti roll bar Rear: Bogie type

Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with shock absorbers Rear: Bogie type

Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with Shock Absorbers Rear: Bogie type

Front: Semi Elliptical Leaf springs with shock absorbers Rear: Semi elliptical leaf springs

Tipper body

18 cum Rock Body

16 cum Rock Body

16 cum Std. Box Body

16 cum Std. Box Body

12 cum Std. Box Body


High Exhaust, high Suction

High Exhaust, high Suction


Mining tyres

Mining tyres


Day Cab :: With AC

Day Cab :: With AC

Day Cab

Day Cab

Day Cab


Rs. 35.25 lakh

Rs. 31.75 lakh

Rs.25.50 lakh

Rs.23.75 lakh

Rs. 17.13 lakh for a 12 Cum Box

42 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

smiles on the operator’s face is the integrated oil filter on the axle which the company says can go 5,00,000 km between maintenance intervals. Just for the record, the MAN Force trucks with drive through axles fitted with an inter axle diff lock can also be ordered with ABS. The front axle is a heavy duty forged I-beam type employing unitised hub bearings and large kingpins. Brakes on the front wheels have 180mm widths while at the rear this is bumped up to 210mm. The enhanced brake area is of utmost importance given the vehicle’s power and torque and when you factor in the EVB plus the ABS option. Semi-elliptic leaf springs plus shock absorbers make up the front suspension while at the rear the CLA series trucks make do with trapezoidal leaf springs on its bogie type suspension layout. Note the two sleeper bunks to ensure that drivers get enough rest while doing the long-haul.

Robots tighten locks on the cylinder blocks.

continues from pg. 41 (Pithampur plant)

The final part of the piece is the export operation, which MAN is keenly interested in – considering that its core market in Europe has been badly hit by the economic downturn. As mentioned earlier in this piece, 1,500 trucks are expected to be sold outside India this year. More than 300 units have already gone out to countries like S. Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt and Algeria, Saudi Arabia. About 500 parts are sent out to make each truck. And, each container can house parts for two trucks. The engines, axles and gearboxes parts are dispatched separately. Once specifications for a particular market are ascertained, a CBU truck is built and dispatched to the target market. If it passes muster, the kits follow. MFTIPL has 21 export-ready configurations, to account for typical customisations such as compliance with superior emission norms, radial tyres, air-suspended seats, vertical exhausts, more powerful lamps and tachographs. The Pithampur facility can cater to 500 TIB kits per month. ■ It takes about 500 individual parts to assemble a truck. And a container can carry enough parts to put together two trucks.

Not only is there more wheel travel but the ability to spread out the loads far more effectively ensure safe handling. Power steering is of course the norm, like any modern day truck. The quality feel of the steering, the precise directional ability, the ride quality, the power delivery coming on strong with every incremental upshift and the quality of the gearshift itself marks out the trucks for a really long haul. This brings us to the cab and this proven L-series cab is totally indigenised in all its three configurations. There is the day cabin type followed by the low-roof sleeper cabin and the hi-roof sleeper cabin. The cab is pretty ergonomic and robust with good mounting points and also very effective stabilisers to control cab Upright exhausts can movement on the chassis. be offered on The bunks are decently sized demand. to take the well-built drivers to rest and sleep easy. Controls are logical and well laid out and there is no overload of information to get it to resemble a nuclear submarine. Speaking of turnaround times, the tractors can work nearly all day long and with its large 335-litre fuel tanks, while the tippers are par for long hours with their 200-litre tanks. All in all, Indian trucking seems to have a leg up and at none too high a cost. ■ july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 43

Cover story / MAn Force trucks

aaa / aaa

While MAN FORCE has come out with a 16-tonne tipper (16.220), it has not rolled out a rigid in that class.

Bhubaneswar, Jamshedpur, Satna, Raipur, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Beyond, this, the company’s driver training school in Pithampur, has already trained more than 1,000 drivers and technicians Buses on the horizon MFTPL is getting ready to pleasantly surprise customers. Its bus venture, once assumed to be delayed seems to be well on track in order to capitalize on a growing market. ‘We are working on both low floor city and inter-city buses. While one should be out by the end of this year, the other should out by early next fiscal. We have developed a CNG version of the D08 engine to take the bus to all markets,’ is Firodia’s input. There are strong indications that a front-engined inter-city bus should be out by the end of this fiscal, while the rear-engined diesel and CNG city bus would ready by early next fiscal. It is not hard to picture the appeal of the CNG variant of the rearengined 6-cylinder 220 HP bus doing duty on Delhi’s roads. Incidentally, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland, run 230HP, rear44 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

engined CNG buses in the capital, which needs more low-floor buses than the two manufacturers can supply presently. Other cities are also expected to demand more than 20,000 buses to go with their modern urban public transport plans. Just as well, despite the market now adopting rear-engined inter-city buses, there is still a good market for a sub Rs 40 lakh front-engined bus. ‘In order to cost-effectively cater to both kinds of the bus market, MFTIPL will only selectively take from MAN’s family of chassis and localise to the maximum possible extent. The bodies will be built by a local fabricator,’ exThe 25.220 multiaxle rigid fills a key gap in plains Firodia. the JV’s portfolio. In 2006, Force

Motors and NEOMAN Bus GmbH (bus division of MAN Nutzfahrzeuge entered into a separate JV to manufacture and export chassis and fully built buses. At that juncture, they had proposed to make and sell 4,000 units per annum by 2008. But, in the face of a slowing down of the truck venture, the bus agenda had been pushed to the backburner. ■

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 45

calling attention

Private bus operators

Private bus operators / calling attention

With a fleet of 56 high end luxury buses, Konduskar Travels operates in Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

In search of a

smoother ride

46 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

Private bus operators can look forward to opportunities as well as challenges. They need to play their cards well, while hoping for good sense to prevail on part of the authorities. Story Ahfaaz Khan Photography Sawan Sekhar Hembram


uses remain among the most preferred modes of travel in India. Despite the slowdown, the number of passengers travelling by them has registered a steady increase. ‘Earlier IT professionals used to travel by rail or air for longer distance business trips. But, because of a cost-cutting spree in the industry, travel allowances have been curtailed, prompting people to switch to buses,’ says Sunil Sawla, Proprietor, Neeta Travels. The Pune- Bangalore fare on a Volvo is Rs 850; whereas the tariff for a low-cost airline between the same destinations is Rs 3,000.

Coming to rail travel, a one-way journey on 3 and 2 tier AC trains can set the business traveller back by Rs 900 and 1,300 respectively. But it is not just cost which drives passengers to buses. The ready availability of tickets even at very short notice is a big draw too. The convenience has only improved with the popularisation of online ticketing facilities. Phanindra Sama, CEO, redBus comments, ‘Online bus ticketing is picking up very fast. In May, we registered a 30 percent month on month increase in bookings.’ Even bus operators are getting ready to be part of the IT bandwagon. Both Neeta Travels and Konduskar Travels will soon be launching their online ticketing portals. redBus on the other hand, will also start offering solutions to bus operators to help them set up dedicated websites. ‘Currently, online bus ticketing accounts for less than 1 percent of total volume of bus tickets booked. We expect this figure to head up to 20 percent over the next 2-3 years,’ Sama adds. A n other

reason for customers opting for buses over other modes of transport is flexibility in terms of boarding and drop points. ‘Barring few cities, where private buses are not allowed to enter beyond a certain limit, we are able to offer multiple pick-up and drop points – thereby saving time and money in terms of commute to the final destination. Moreover, the travel time is pretty much the same, irrespective of whether it is a bus or a train,’ narrates Indrajeet Konduskar, CEO Konduskar Travels. In the absence of a quality public transport system, there may be a compelling case for private buses to do well, but it is undeniable that a whole host of issues need to be resolved before they optimise potential. Rough ride The news of Raj Travels exiting the bus business indicates that everything is not that smooth on the ground. The Mumbai-

Though RAJ Travels received applause for its efficient and prompt service, the operator’s bottomline has remained under stress because of inconsistencies in the bus transport industry.

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 47

calling attention / Private bus operators

According to Indrajeet Konduskar, double-decker buses will come into the picture once the golden quadrilateral gets completed.

based operator has begun disposing off its fleet of 104 buses and is set to quit business completely in less than a year. At one juncture, Raj Travels had plans of putting 2,000 buses on road, running on the differentiated premise of timely and prompt service. ‘The premise of quality service made sense to customers, but not for our bottomlines. We suffered accumulated losses of Rs 44 crore between 2005 and 2008. As a result, we had to take this unfortunate decision of quitting the business,’ reveals Lalit Sheth, chairman and managing director, Raj Travels. What is more concerning is the fact that Lalit Sheth is not the only bus operator who has encountered problems in running his operations. And, the problems are many too, starting with taxation. ‘A bus operator

is required to pay around 10 different kinds of taxes including road tax, toll tax and RTO tax,’ laments Sawla. The state of Maharashtra for example charges an annual road tax of Rs 6,500 per seat per bus from operators. Thus, a 40seater bus attracts a road tax of Rs 2.6 lakh; whereas a 50 seater is hit with Rs 3.25 lakh. Hence Konduskar Travels, with a fleet of 56 buses and Neeta Travels with a fleet of 120 buses pay a road tax of around Rs 40 lakh and Rs 2 crore respectively to the state of Maharashtra alone. Konduskar Travels also operates services in other states like Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka while Neeta operates its services in Gujarat and Goa apart from Maharashtra. As a result, big operators end up paying a substantial amount in terms of road tax alone. What irks operators further is the fact that road tax is required to be paid to states, irrespective of whether the buses are running or not. ‘In Q1, the occupancy rates are highest at around 70-80 percent and then they drop to about 50 percent in Q2, only to improve by about 10 percent in Q3 and Q4. It would help if the taxes are levied taking the occupancy levels in question,’ explains Konduskar. Lack of infrastructure Another bottleneck for private operators is the lack of infrastructure. ‘The government is yet to understand that buses are only one part of an efficient public transport system. In cities like Brazil and Mexico, the governA majority of the STUs have expansion plans with respect to high-end luxury coaches. As a result competition for private bus operators will only increase in the future.

48 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

Sunil Sawla says that value-driven buses like the Tata Hispano Globus will help operators offer quality services even on those routes where customers are not willng to pay a premium.

ment have made bus terminals and handed them to private operators for operations. Something of this kind should be done in India if we want the Indian bus industry to grow to its potential,’ comments Sheth. The current scenario in India is completely the opposite. There are a number of cities in the country where private buses are not allowed to enter city limits. While authorities say that such rules are to prevent the congestion on city roads, operators allege that such rules are put in place in order to safeguard the interest of state transport undertakings. The measures affect bus operators on two counts. While, on the one hand, they lose passengers who desire pointpoint travel, for the ones that would take private buses, the operators need to transport them to the designated pick-up points at their own cost. What is worse, intense competition drives down ticket rates. Generally, operators price their tickets at Re1 to Rs 1.5 per km, lower than that charged by STUs. Neeta Travels charges Rs 270 for a Pune-to Aurangabad trip, while MSRTC nets Rs 325 for the same trip. This sorry scenario leaves private operators with very poor toplines as well as bottomlines. Private bus operators are planning to approach the STUs with a host of suggestions to make life easier. ‘In return for fees, the STUs can offer parking facilities for our buses. We are also open to the possibility of STUs booking tickets for us on a commission basis,’ says Dhwanil Sanghwi, manager of Pune operations for Neeta

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be an important part of our fleet in future if we want to take on the railways. But for this service to succeed there will need to be uniformity in laws with respect to dimensions and taxation rates for sleeper buses. Only then, can these be manufactured and run on a large scale,’ says Konduskar. To augment services further, both Konduskar and Neeta have tried operating buses with onboard toilets, but the concept did not take off, since passengers did not always adhere to the best hygiene standards. Moreover, a toilet would have also led to the loss of two rows of seats. The introduction of more affordable buses from domestic manufacturers like Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland is seen as a welcome development by operators. ‘More affordable buses will allow us to offer services on even those routes where we cannot charge a premium,’ says an official with a major bus operator. The same logic

extends to the use of smaller buses too. Neeta Travels already operates a Force Traveller on a couple of routes adjacent to Mumbai where a 45-seater luxury bus service is not viable. Bus operators are also looking at other revenue options to insulate and complement that from bus services. For example, Neeta Travels runs hotels in Shirdi, Mahabaleshwar and Lonavala. The PuneMahabaleshwar package for a couple costs Rs 5,000 for 2 nights whereas a to and fro journey between the two cities costs only in the region of Rs 1,000. Neeta is also planning to open another hotel in Goa. ‘We are trying to become a one-stop solution provider in order to be attractive to the tourist segment. In recent times, this space has been hit by the Mumbai terror attacks and the swine flu,’ says Sanghwi. Clearly many seats are yet to be taken on the bus to success. â–

Trains have always been a stiff competitor for buses and with trains like Garib Rath coming into the picture, the competition seems to be shifting in favour of the former.

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50 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

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Going into the future So far, buses have been winning against the railways on shorter distances at least. But, the introduction of special trains like the Garib Rath with fares on par with those of buses poses problems for bus operators. For instance, buses on the Pune- Nagpur route have seen a 20 percent decline in occupancy rates, following the introduction of the Garib Rath on this route. Sleeper buses could be the answer to this challenge. ‘Sleeper buses will need to

Travels. The idea seems to be practical. But STUs are reluctant to oblige. Sources indicate that with their own expansion plans, accommodating buses from private operators in bus terminals may not be feasible. And tickets cannot be booked for private operators, since many STU buses themselves operate at sub-optimal capacities. How many of these reservations are motivated by disinclination for competition is not clear at this point.



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rapid strides

veera vahana

veera vahana / rapid strides

Veera Vahana bets on city and integral buses Just four years into the business, the Bangalorebased bus body builder, has quite a few aces up its sleeve. Story Ram Kumar Ramaswamy


eera Vahana Udyog Pvt Ltd has earned a reputation as premium bus maker in a very short time since its inception in 2005. It was started by an enthusiastic bunch of first generation entrepreneurs led by the pragmatic K.Srinivas Reddy. Located in Bangalore’s Bommasandra Industrial Estate, Veera Vahana currently puts out premium and non-premium AC as well as non-AC variants. It also has been making sleeper

coaches, as well as mofussil and tarmac coaches. It has over 100 customers including transport corporations like KSRTC, BMTC, MTC and APSRTC. Despite the economic slowdown hitting the CV industry, Veera Vahana has not been impacted severely. A turnover of Rs 31 crore was recorded in the last fiscal, which was just Rs 2 crore shy of the previous year’s figure. Sales have been going strong at around 450 buses per annum. But this year could be different. Banking on the Jawaharlal Nehru

Being a technocrat himself, Srinivas Reddy understands the intricacies of body building very well.

National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) driven city bus market momentum, Veera Vahana plans to double its sales this year. ‘We plan to do 600-700 city buses this year. We have a confirmed order from BMTC, Kerala SRTC and MTC Chennai, with 50 to 60 buses to be delivered in the next 2 months. Our USP has always been premium and air-conditioned inter-city buses. The private inter-city bus operators have been hit by the financial crisis and the recovery is not yet visible. But even then, we will be in a position to register some sales with them, to nudge our total sales closer to the 1,000 units mark,’ explains K. Srinivas

An AC Sleeper bus. The profile of sleepers is growing rapidly.

52 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

An exterior shot of the mobile classroom.

Reddy. Not surprisingly, turnover could reach impressive levels of Rs 70-80 crore in this fiscal. To keep pace with these plans, the current manufacturing capacity at the 8.5 acre Bangalore plant will be doubled to 1,000 units with the addition of a shift. The plant can be scaled up to make 2,000 buses if the need so arises. JV with European bus maker Veera Vahana has been in discussions with a bus maker hailing from former Yugoslavia to secure a technical collaboration for the manufacture of monocoque buses. If not for the economic crisis gripping the world, the JV would have been underway this year. But it is still very much on the cards. ‘We will come out with our first buses within 3-4 years. A new facility will also come up in either Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh to cater to the new kind of buses. It will be bigger than the current facility,’ reveals Reddy. But even before the plant comes up, Veera Vahana will get into prototyping and testing of the 230-240

Classes are conducted in this bus across India. The bus is equipped with latest tools in education delivery.

HP monocoque inter-city coaches from its Bangalore plant. While carefully choosing local aggregates, Veera will ensure 100 percent localisation of the buses. Asked about how the buses will be positioned in the market,

Reddy says, ‘We will be either priced on par or slightly higher over the current crop of Indian integral coach makers. There will also be an endeavour to learn from mistakes that may have been made by them, either technologically or commercially.’ july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 53

rapid strides / veera vahana

veera vahana / rapid strides

The first bus delivered within record time on 05.05.2005.

ity is a testimony to integrated manufacturing. In the MS tubes section, the tubes are bent, formed, punched and painted, the components are all brought together under the main section to get welded, assembled and furnished. The main section is a unique feature of Veera, which has a clear span sans any pillar for 50 meters, which can accommodate more than 100 vehicles at a time. ‘The main section was put up in record time of 3-5 months in time for the roll out of our first luxury bus in 2005,’ Reddy proudly says. The plant has a comprehensive water hydrant system to encounter fire mishaps, and has

At the moment, the integral coach market is dominated by players like Pune’s Corona and Jallandhar’s Sutluj. ‘Special’ efforts Veera Vahana is now making a tarmac coach for Ashok Leyland which will have improved specifications as per demand. Veera has already made school buses on Ashok Leyland’s Lynx platform. Recently, 20 Air conditioned buses were fabricated and supplied to the APSRTC within 40 days in time for the World Tourism Conference at Hyderabad, ‘With our 500 plus dedicated workforce, we are able to meet such orders efficiently, within a very short time’ beams Reddy, who plans to increase the workforce by two fold in the coming two months, as the company is geared to go in for in-line mass production. Veera has also made sleeper coaches meeting tough parameters in terms of across-the-chassis berths and right-side gangways for the APSRTC as well as a few private operators. A mobile AC classroom made for the Bangalore Management Academy deserves special mention too. The classroom has tastefully furnished interiors with a facility to tutor 20 students. Equipped with LCD projector screens and a private room for travelling tutors the classroom blends functionality and aesthetics in the right manner. ‘More special vehicles, including tippers will be made at our upcoming second facility,’ states Reddy. Manufacturing mettle Veera Vahana’s 68,000 square feet facil54 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

A shower test rig

The core team at Veera Vahana.

A KSRTC Rajahamsa bus.

This sleeper will put many a bus to shame. Note the charging point too.

pressurised gas throughout the floors to drive fully-pneumatic tools. The FRP sections are made in-house, in order to ensure quality control. Barring seats, which are procured from Harita and a couple of outsourced powder coating jobs, the entire end-to-end processes are made in-house. A hot phosphating plant inside their premises is a speciality, providing anti-corrosive coating to the mild steel components. Most bus components have almost three coats of phosphating

in its process including an epoxy coating which seals the interiors and welded parts virtually from all corroding forces. BASF supplies the paints with an exhaustive range of 2 lakh tints within an in-house mixing facility. “Recently, we were very happily surprised when we dismantled a first batch bus made in 2005. We discovered that the interior layers were without a trace of corrosion,’ recounts Srinivas Reddy. Almost half the luxury buses turned

out by Veera over the last two years have been Air-Conditioned. The technical expertise comes to play in the careful laying of ducts for ACs, mostly supplied by ThermoKing and Carrier. ‘There is no rocket science involved in it. If the ducting is given in scientific precision, there is no chance of malfunctioning after. We have made a lot of strides in AC buses with vehicle engines themselves driving the AC units,’ adds Reddy, who is an engineering graduate himself. ■ july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 55


strong intent

strong intent / mann+hummel

years. MHFPL is one among a few short listed suppliers for air filters and intake systems for the Tata Motors World Truck Project. Even as the company awaits bigger orders from Tata Motors, other products such as Ashok Leyland’s Unitruck series, the Mahindra Navistar range and Hino’s upcoming trucks could present good opportunities for MHFPL. The Rs 40-crore Tumkur-based company works with plastic materials to fabricate its filter systems. ‘Plastic components can deliver up to a 50 percent weight reduction and 25 percent cost savings vis-à-vis those made of metal,’ claims Hummel. Currently, however at relatively low volumes, it is not feasible for the company to undertake the complete manufacturing at its own facilities. As a result, once dies and toolings were created for the Tata project, the fabrication of the filter systems has been outsourced to a supplier in Pune. Fresh toolings will be created to

meet other orders and the manufacturing of the same will yet again be outsourced. But this piecemeal approach may end as volumes improve. ‘If we have orders of 10,000-20,000 units per annum, all manufacturing can be done in-house using our state-of-the-art blow moulding technology,’ reveals Hummel. Aftermarket business The company has formally announced its foray into the aftermarket under the ‘Mann Filters’ brand. These air, oil and fuel filters will compete with others from the stables of players like Cummins, Elofic and of course from MHFPL’s Indian partner Bosch. Mann Filters’ recognises that it cannot take on such strong competition from day one. Hence, it is taking a gradual approach to the market. ‘We have introduced approximately 50 percent of products demanded in the market. The others will be brought into the market over the next 2-3 The Tata World Trucks use air intake ducts and filters from Mann+Hummel.

Hans-Georg Hummel, Manfred Wolf and Ajith Raj Nair are raring to approach the market with Mann Filters.

Mann+Hummel enters aftermarket The German filter maker may be going through tough times globally, but its India plans are right on track. Story Sridhar Chari


he recently launched Tata World Truck range featured air intake ducts and filters from Mann+Hummel Filter Private Limited (MHFPL). This is no small achievement for a compa56 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

ny that started manufacturing automotive filters only as late as last year. ‘We had commenced working with Tata Motors about a year ago on the project. Having now supplied what we think is a quality solution, we hope to get a larger mandate

from them over time,’ states Hans-Georg Hummel, MD, MHFPL. According to some estimates, the World Truck could see volumes of about 2,000 -4,000 units this year and these numbers can be expected to grow nicely in a few

An air intake system for commercial vehicles up close.

years,’ says Manfred Wolf, Senior Executive Vice President, Filter Elements and Systems, Mann+Hummel GmbH. A key challenge will be the promotion of the brand in the aftermarket, when MHFPL has no significant presence in the OEM segment. In this the company is banking on its claimed superior quality. Distribution is also a priority that is being addressed. ‘We have roped in 5-6 major distributors. They would entail some 5060 front end outlets,’ states Ajith Raj Nair, Joint MD, MHFPL. Along with greater penetration of the market, the filters specialist is also bidding to improve its competence in India by setting up an R&D centre in Bangalore. Entailing investments to the tune of Rs 10 crore over a period of 2 years, the centre will be able to carry out computer aided simulations for testing and design purposes. The advantage will be that parts no longer need to be procured from Germany, even as greater customisation is possible for Indian customers. ‘While products meant for Europe are intended to save labour costs, those for India would need savings in material costs. That is the kind of tweaking in products needed to be done to fit the needs of the Indian market,’ explains Hummel. The test centre will be equipped with facilities like a static burst pressure july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 57

mann+hummel / strong intent

strong intent / MAnn+Hummel

‘This competition has been in-built so that both partners can make the most of a growing market. While being independent of each other, we will still compete,’ clarifies Wolf. Incidentally, Mann+Hummel and the Bosch group have collaborated earlier to acquire the Purolator filter business from Arvin Merritor in the US. In India itself, MHB Filter India Private Limited will set up another plant in Nalagarh to make filter elements to meet Bosch’s aftermarket needs. ‘We are setting up the plant to benefit from the tax concessions and to be closer to the North Indian market. Moreover, we can make filter elements of specific sizes,’ explains Peter Wink, MD, MHB Filter India Private Limited. The new facility will need investments of Rs 10 -12 crore over a period of 1-2 years. It is envisaged to employ 100 people and put out 10 million filter elements during the course of the same time. Starting as a sourcing office in 2003, MHFPL came into being in 2005. Its stateof-the-art facility in Tumkur, set up at an investment of Rs 45 crore was ready in just 10 months. From 2006, onwards, it has been making air oil separators and

The current Mann Filter range meets only only the needs of India. The full range will be offered in 2-3 years.

air filters for construction equipment and compressors. MHFPL will embark on its own expansion course too. ‘While expanding capacity at Tumkur, we may set up a new plant in 5-10 years. The next 3-4 years may see investments to the tune of Rs 65-100 crore,’ reveals Wolf. Simultaneously, as the Indian market evolves to

higher levels of ergonomics and emissions compliance, MHFPL may introduce cabin filters and urea filters. They will add to the air filter systems, intake manifold systems, liquid filter systems and other important modules and components in and around the engine, that are currently being offered in this market. ■

The Tumkur plant makes filter elements for filters sold by M+H as well as its JV company set up with Bosch

test rig, vibration test facilities, test bench for oil separation of PCV systems and air cleaner test benches. Larger view In 2007, Mann+Hummel GmbH derived

The corporate office in Bangalore.

58 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

just 4 percent of its 1.75 billion Euro turnover from Asia. But by 2016, the company hopes that the rapidly growing Asia will bring in 16 percent of turnover. This is especially significant considering that in 2008, sales increased only marginally

at 1.83 billion Euros as the European and North American markets slid sharply. India is expected to figure prominently in M+H’s increasingly bullish outlook on Asia. Turnover from India is projected to Rs 250 crore, six times the current level. This milestone may be reached through an interesting process. M+H has a 50:50 JV with the Bosch Group to make filter elements for different kinds of filters. The current capacity of the company, MHB Filter India Private Limited is 7-7.5 million filter elements. Both partners use the filter elements to make their own filters. Traditionally, MHFPL has occupied itself with oil and air filters, while Bosch has focused on fuel filters. While MHFPL was only involved in the OEM market, there was a very low possibility of direct competition between the partners. But following MHFPL’s entry into the aftermarket and especially also into fuel filters, there may be some ‘friendly-fighting’ with Bosch. july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 59

coming of age


ABEL / coming of age

ABEL and ambitious The company’s journey from a farmmachinery fabricator to a construction equipment manufacturer has been an interesting one. Story Ahfaaz Khan and Sridhar Chari


aridabad-based A.B. Excavators and Earthmovers Private Limited (ABEL) is getting ready to roll the AB10 within six months. The backhoe loader, featuring a 75 HP Simpson engine, Wipro hydraulics and transmissions from Carraro, a torque convertor, a power take off mechanism and multipurpose buckets is being touted as an indigenous effort by ABEL. ‘The AB10 is the first backhoe to be built with completely Indian designs. Only after five years of intensive R&D, did the first machine roll out in September 2008. Following this, the machine was put to 700 hours of testing,’ claims Ajay Bondwal, director, ABEL. While a basic loader comes with just a

Ajay Bondwal expects the construction equipment market to do well on the back of the centre’s thrust on infrastructure development.

60 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

canopy, the fully loaded version has a cabin. ABEL expects to sell around

That brings us to a new plant coming up some 30 kms away. ABEL has invested Rs 15 crore in the six-acre facility that will come up by December. Incidentally, this plant will also make tippers. This facility will have an installed capacity to manufacture 6,000 tippers per annum and will start by the end of this year. In addition to regular tippers, ABEL also plans to make rock body tippers with hardox steel walls and sandwich floors. Tipper trailers, reefers and other special application vehicles are on the radar too. So far, ABEL has made more than 1,000 tippers including some for OEMs like Tata Motors and Tatra Vectra. ‘We used to make tippers with 4.5, 6 and 8 cubic meters capacities for SK 1613, double and single van models. For the LPK series we used to manufacture 14 cubic meter tippers. In addition to these, we also made tippers with sandwich floors for Tatra’ reveals Bondwal. The tipper and backhoe making activity will not stay confined to North India. In about 18 months, ABEL will have another

ABEL claims that the AB10 is India’s first indigenously designed backhoe loader. This machine will hit markets by the end of this year.

200 backhoes in the first year. India’s 13,000-15,000 units backhoe market is dominated by established players like JCB, L&T Case, ACE and Terex Vectra. But ABEL believes that the AB10 could see good demand on account of the government’s emphasis on infrastructure development. The backhoe will first be launched in North and South India. ABEL is in the process of appointing a few dealers in these regions. Discussions are also underway with banks and financial institutions to provide finance to customers. Besides the domestic market, the company is also targeting African and SAARC nations for potential exports. ‘We have come out with a product that can be exported by merely incorporating a more powerful engine if needed,’ believes Bondwal. If both the domestic and export markets are to be addressed, ABEL would need manufacturing muscle beyond the small setup in Faridabad.

plant up and running in Dharwad. It is interestingly placed close to Tata Motors’s plant at the same location. There are unconfirmed reports that the CV maker could shift some LCV production to this site. While ABEL can benefit from body building opportunities, it can also shift some backhoe manufacturing activity here. Exports are a distinct possibility too. ‘We will use the Dharwad plant across products as also as a possible exports hub,’ states Bondwal. Tradition of attachments ABEL began life as a fabricator for the erstwhile Eicher tractors in 2000. Bondwal had been working with the tractor maker on developing a tractor-mounted backhoe loader. Work on the project progressed for three years, but not to the satisfaction of Eicher, so it was abandoned. But, someone’s loss is another’s gain. ‘After three years of substantial R&D, they had come out with five machines. But the machines failed to impress operators and the project was finally shelved. I saw the opportunity to put out my own tractor-mounted backhoe and accordingly approached a customer who had taken part in the trials. The customer reluctantly agreed to part with his 61 HP tractor,’ recounts Bondwal. He managed to design and deliver a brand new back-

The upcoming plant near Delhi will manufacture backhoe loaders and tippers. ABEL is investing more than Rs 15 crore in this plant.

hoe attachment to the customer in a span of 60 days. From thereon, there was no looking back- more so considering the latent need for these attachments. A tractor-mounted backhoe is an extremely versatile machine. Apart from its use on the farm, it can also be used for soil, dam filling and various civil applications. Even maintenance is without any hassles, thanks to its intelligent design. ‘If the clutch plate assembly and presser plate have to be replaced in a tractor, the fly wheel housing and the engine have to be disturbed. But with our design, one just needs to remove the shaft from the rear-end, open four bolts and extract the entire housing. This makes the task easy for loader applications. Our backhoe attachment has a quick release hydraulic coupling at the

rear end, allowing de-coupling of the entire attachment within 30 minutes,’ explains Bondwal. Currently, ABEL has a referral agreement with Sonalika Tractors and Escorts. As compared with a full-fledged backhoe loader, which is priced at Rs 20-22 lakh, a 60 hp Sonalika tractor mounted backhoe is available for close to Rs 12 lakh - with the attachment accounting for 60 percent of the cost. ‘We believe that in 2,000 hours of operation one can recover the cost of the tractor-mounted backhoe,’ says Bondwal. The total market for such attachments is estimated be to the tune of 3,000 units. It could actually be many

Though a tractor mounted backhoe is cheaper by about Rs 9 lakh relative to a conventional backhoe loader, acquiring the former is difficult because of the lack of finance options.

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 61

coming of age / abel

aaa / aaa

ABEL has already made more than 1,000 tipper bodies for OEMs like Tata Motors and Tatra Vectra.

times more, considering that above 50HP tractors constitute at least 20 percent of India’s 3,00,000 units per annum market. So, what stops tractor-mounted backhoes from occupying their rightful place? For one, a tractor-mounted backhoe is good for most jobs but not for tough operations such as loading concrete and boulders. Secondly, there is a perception that tractor makers have not actively pushed for standardised attachments on larger tractors. The third aspect is the conservative attitude of financers. While a standalone backhoe loader gets close to 85 percent finance, a tractor-mounted back-

hoe gets bankrolled only to the extent of the tractor’s price. ABEL’s direct selling strategy, however, can help counter some of the abovementioned negatives. The company’s offices in cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Raipur and Kolkata take care of sales and after service operations. The company has also trained some dealers’ personnel in order to service the equipment. But, there is more to ABEL than tractor-mounted backhoes. The portfolio includes loaders, semi-loaders, forklift at-

tachments, and grapplers for handling logs. The attachments are priced at Rs 22.5 lakh each. ABEL has also developed a sugarcane handler for loading sugarcane onto trucks. A handler can load 10-12 trucks a day as against a mere two trucks when done manually. ‘Currently, there is a population of 750 tractors fitted with ABEL’s attachments. On an average, we do 10-12 in a month, but can go up to 30 units too if the market so demands,’ says Bondwal. ABEL has surely come a long way! ■

Besides the backhoe attachment, ABEL supplies loader, semi-loader, forklifts and sugarcane grappler attachments.

In USA and European countries, tractor mounted attachments are extremely popular and are deployed in a wide variety of applications.

62 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 63

Ford transit

green machine

Ford to introduce new Transit ECOnetic The Transit continues on its transit towards contemporary technology.


ord is set to introduce the ECOnetic low CO2 technology into its Transit range of Vans. The company will launch a new Transit ECOnetic van later this year built on front wheel drive Transit 280 panel van. The van offers a gross payload of 1,097 kg and a load box of 6.5 cubic metre capacity. The new van will be powered by a 115 PS Duratorg TDCi engine offering a fuel economy of 39.2 miles per gallon and an average carbon dioxide emission of 189 gram per kilometre. The engine reaches its peak power at 3,500 rpm, and delivers a maximum torque of 300Nm at 1,800 to 2,000rpm. In combination with a closed-loop, coated Diesel Particulate Filter (cDPF), which is available as an option, Transit ECOnetic meets Euro Stage V emissions standards. Earlier Ford has successfully introduced the ECOnetic technology in a number of its passenger cars. Steve Kimber, commercial vehicles director, Ford-Britain, said, ‘We appreciate that

our commercial vehicle customers have a clear interest in saving fuel and lowering their cost of ownership. At the same time, environmental friendliness is also growing in importance for them, and with the new Transit ECOnetic they can achieve both’. The new van replaces the Durashift five-speed transmission with a six-speed version and thereby offers a wider range of available gear ratios. The ‘shorter’ gearing in first gear offers improved power and torque while the ‘longer’ gearing in top provides improved highway fuel economy of about 10 per cent better as compared to that of a standard Transit van. For the

ECOnetic version, longer gearing has been achieved through the fitment of a 4.36 final drive ratio. Other standout features of Transit ECOnetic include optimised rolling resistance tyres, low friction oil, standard 70mph speed limiter and new low-drag wheel covers. Standard on Transit ECOnetic is Ford’s Electronic Stability Program (ESP) system, including Hill Launch Assist (HLA). The standard list of equipments include the Ford Audio 6000 unit as well as load box safety equipment, including a full steel bulkhead and solid tie down hooks. Other features such as a trip computer to monitor fuel performance, rear parking sensors and a new rear view camera with overhead seven-inch color display are available as optional. ■

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 63

breaking convention


mercedes Benz / breaking convention

Mercedes-Benz delivers world’s largest ambulance Size is only the calling card. The real point is the impressive attention to detail – the ambulances are actually high-end mobile hospitals.


ercedes-Benz has delivered three new, largecapacity ambulances to the Centre of Ambulance Services of the Government of Dubai. Of the three clinic buses, one serves as an intensive care unit, the second one is intended for large-scale treatment and transport of injured patients and a third variant acts as a combination of the first two. This variant alone has the capacity to treat and transport more than 80 patients. Mercedes-Benz has used 12 m Citaro regular bus for the first two variants and an 18 m articulated Citaro G series of buses for the third. Developed in collaboration with vehicle conversion specialist Gebr. Heymann GmbH and an international research and consultancy company V o n

Built on the Citaro platform, the ambulances meet one of the highest medical emergency requirements.

64 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

Bergh Global Medical Consulting; these new ambulance or clinic buses meet one of the highest emergency medical service requirements. A range of patient monitoring equipment like ECG, X-rays and ultrasound are available on these monster ambulances. All the three clinic buses are equipped with the world’s smallest X-ray unit, whose output is so low that precautions such as lead screens are unnecessary. The X-ray images

are shown on a computer monitor in real time. Also featured in these vehicles is the InSpectra shock monitor which helps to determine oxygen saturation in tissue by just placing the sensor on the palm. The mobile intensive care unit consists of three observation bays, one of which can be converted into a fully-functioning operating theatre. During treatment the patient lies on an operating table which is lit by full-

This ambulance has the capacity to transport and treat 80 passengers.

fledged operating theatre lights. A wide variety of operations and treatments can be carried out using disposable instrument sets. The Mercedes-Benz large-capacity ambulances are also well-equipped to carry out caesarean birth procedures. Apart from all the necessary obstetrical instruments onboard, the ambulances are also equipped with an incubator for proper care of the newborn. Each of the buses carries 12,000 litres of oxygen, ensuring a steady supply for up to three days. The gas is fed to the different seating areas by separate lines. Pressing a button causes oxygen masks to fall from special holders and the oxygen flow to each mask can be individually controlled. An operator station at the front of these vehicles allows external communication by telephone, radio, internet and fax. A laptop and a large LCD monitor are also provided onboard which enables the individual areas to be monitored. It took Mercedes-Benz 700 hours

each for converting the Citaro buses into these huge ambulances. Citaro regular and Citaro G buses are powered by a 299 hp OM M 457 (h) LA and a 354 hp OM 457

(h) LA engine respectively. In addition to functionality, special focus has also been placed on build quality and aesthetics of the bus. The mediboards or the walls, to The ambulances houses have enough medical equipment for even complex procedures.

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 65

breaking convention / mercedes Benz

which the medical equipment is attached, are made up of carbon-fibre and brushed stainless steel. Comprehensive corrosion protection, taking into consideration the extreme operating conditions of the Middle-East, has been ensured by cathodic dip priming. The buses also feature roll-in systems for stretchers such as those used by paramedical services, so that patients can be rolled into the vehicle in a prone position. The ambulances can also be equipped with a rear-mounted equipment box containing generators, tents for the treatment of injured victims, decontamination systems with the relevant protective suits and an oxygen concentrator. This system enables oxygen to be produced for several weeks without recourse to gas suppliers. Because of the hot conditions in Dubai, both buses feature high-performance air conditioning systems and air curtains at the doors prevent warm air from entering and cool air from escaping. Vehicle safety is ensured by the Electronic Braking System (EBS), disc brakes, ABS and side impact protection. The Centre of Ambulance Services of the Government of Dubai had ordered the three Mercedes-Benz clinic buses so that rapid medical assistance can be provided in the event of major emergencies. The survival chances of critically injured persons to a large extent depend on the rapid availability of treatment. In chaotic traffic conditions, there are often delays in shifting a patient to a hospital. The situation is further compounded when there are inad-

The roll-in system in the ambulances allows the stretcher to be easily moved in and out of the vehicle.

The ambulances come with an onboard LCD screen to monitor operations.

66 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

equate numbers of ambulance available. While a two-man crew can treat and transport only one patient in a conventional ambulance, up to 20 persons can receive care from four specialist personnel in the Mercedes-Benz large-capacity ambulance. The Citaro ranges of buses are one of the popular platforms used to cater to special applications. The modular design of

the Citaro provides a high degree of flexibility, both in terms of operating profiles and the production process. In the past, Citaro has been successfully utilised as base vehicles to catering to fire services, command vehicles, police buses, mobile television studios and various other applications. In Poland the Citaro is used as a mobile energy advisory centre. â–

mItsubishi Fuso

enhanced appeal

s e d a r g p u o s u F Mitsubishi

o c E r e t n a C Hybrid


itsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC) has launched an enhanced version of the Canter Eco Hybrid light-duty truck. The new hybrid features a newly developed VG turbo engine 4M42(T3) as against the 4M42(T2) engine used in earlier versions. The power output of the new engine is 96kW while that of the 4M42(T2) engine was 92 kW. In addition to this, the shape of the side-turn lamp has been changed to comply with new Japanese lamp and lighting equipment regulations. The drivability of the truck is also improved because of the use of INOMAT-II mechanical automated transmission and

optimised tuning of the hybrid system. The optimisation of the hybrid control system has also helped to improve fuel economy to about 11 and 10 km/litre for the two and three tonne versions respectively. Besides the already existing B- and Elong range of wheel bases, the enhanced version will now be available in G-long wheel base dimensions. Other new models include a DX version and a sub 5 ton truck conforming to Japan’s new driver’s license regulation. The new Canter Eco Hybrid complies with Japan’s ‘Safety Standard for Passenger Protection from High Voltage’ that will come into force starting July 2012. Most models of the enhanced Canter Eco Hybrid are now available in Japan through Mit-

subishi Fuso’s extensive dealer network. The full range of models will however be available by the end of this quarter. Introduced almost three years ago, the Canter Eco Hybrid has registered sales in excess of 600 units. Mitsubishi Fuso’s continuing efforts in hybrid development are part of the ‘Shaping Future Transportation’ initiative of Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses. The initiative aims at increasing ongoing efforts to achieve a significant reduction in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions of commercial vehicles. In 2008, MFTBC sold a total of about 1, 97,700 vehicles including light, medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses. Daimler AG owns 85 percent of MFTBC. ■ july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 67

fresh idea


nissan / fresh idea Vans have seldom looked as interesting before the NV200 came into the fray.

Be it transporting passengers or delivering goods, one is never short of options with the NV 200 Vanette. The second and third row of seats can be folded to create additional space for loading a large quantity of cargo.

Nissan rolls out


NV200 Vanette

issan Motor Company launched its all-new Nissan NV200 Vanette, a next-generation light duty compact van in Japan last month. First displayed at the IAA CV Show in Hannover last year, it displays contemporary styling, advanced functionality and a wide cargo space. The exterior design dynamically blends a large, square cargo area with a uniquely sporty front end. The front-end is widely rounded and its low, wedge-shaped waistline enhances driver visibility. The driver’s seat is designed for optimal driving comfort and it slides 190 mm back and forth. 68 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009

The two-level instrument panel aesthetically blends a variety of surfaces, lines and materials to project a rich, high-quality feeling. The high roofline and low, flat cargo floor at the rear offers a wide cargo capacity. The NV200 Vanette is available in two, five and seven seater configurations. The two-seater version can accommodate metre module materials (2,000 x 100 x 44 mm) that are used for construction activities.

NV200 Vanette offers huge cargo space on account of its high roofline and low, flat cargo floor at the rear.

A neat van that has thankfully got past the concept stage Moreover, using the space under the front passenger’s seat makes it possible to carry items up to three metres in length. The five and seven- seater versions come with two and three rows of seats respectively. The seats in the second and third row can be folded and the additional space can be used for loading the cargo. The NV200 Vanette is powered by a newly developed 1.6-litre HR16DE petrol engine. The engine incorporates a variable valve timing which when, combined with an expanded lock-up operation range of the four-speed automatic transmission, enables the NV200 Vanette to deliver a fuel economy of 14 km/l. Standard on all

models is a vehicle operating information display that shows real-time and average fuel consumption. In addition to this, manual transmission-equipped models come with an indicator that shows the optimum up-shift timing. Because of an air-fuel ratio sensor and upgradation in catalysts and other engine components, the NV200 Vanette registers 75 percent lower emissions as compared to the Japan’s 2005 exhaust emission regulations. The NV200 Vanette also complies with the specified standards of the designated low-pollution vehicle system prescribed under the eight prefectures and cities low-emission vehicle certification scheme as well as those prescribed by lev7 certification scheme. The NV200 Vanette’s front suspension incorporates ripple-control shock absorbers with increased stiffness for reducing highfrequency vibrations. Pendulum engine mounts and an anti-vibration sub-frame reduces noise levels further. A newly designed leaf-rigid suspension is used at the rear for providing extra durability. Featuring a high-strength Zone Body construction, NV200 complies with side impact safety standards. Other safety features include factory-installed rear view monitor, optimum lighting with multi-reflector halogen headlights, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) combined with Anti-lock

Braking System (ABS) and Brake Assist, SRS air bag system for the driver and the front passenger and front seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters. The new van qualifies for tax breaks under the preferential tax schemes that are being implemented in Japan from April this year. The scheme, which seeks to promote the use of eco-friendly vehicles, waves the automobile acquisition tax and the automobile weight tax by 75 percent on the automatic transmissionequipped vehicles and between 50 to 75 percent for the vehicles featuring manual transmissions. The NV200 will be priced between15,72,900 to 18,99,450 yen and Nissan is expecting to sell around 1,300 units per month in Japan. Nissan refers to all its vehicles eligible for the preferential tax breaks as the Nissan ECO Series (NECO Series). The company hopes to stimulate consumer demand for eco-friendly vehicles by offering customers a broad selection of products to choose from. Following its debut in Japan, the NV200 Vanette will be launched in other markets around the world. ■

The two-seater version of the van features a specially designed console for accommodating various equipments used in construction activity.

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 69

the numbers game

siam data

siam data / the numbers game

Tata Ace props up Tata Motors Production


Eicher’s LCVs on revival path

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 26 57 52 99 0 Force Motors Ltd 2 1 9 1 5 1 13 1 6 Ford India Pvt Ltd 200 195 529 383 282 184 579 385 0 General Motors India Pvt Ltd 641 344 1,247 806 924 607 1,968 1,166 0 Hindustan Motors Ltd 201 120 366 249 211 133 405 204 0 Honda Siel Cars India Ltd 0 0 0 0 274 0 546 0 0 Hyundai Motor India Ltd 0 0 0 0 4 2 13 8 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 6,738 4,154 12,531 11,937 6,053 4,345 12,111 11,947 133 Maruti Suzuki India Ltd 0 0 0 0 63 0 100 0 0 Mercedes-Benz India Pvt Ltd 0 0 0 0 16 12 17 12 0 Tata Motors Ltd 2,242 1,281 4,688 2,642 2,405 1,199 4,108 2,436 53 Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd 1,585 1,397 3,579 2,707 1,678 1,487 3,580 2,772 0 Total 11,609 7,492 22,949 18,725 11,941 8,027 23,492 19,030 192 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 182 106 335 183 181 96 404 196 0 International Cars & Motors Ltd 332 68 721 185 201 68 580 221 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 2,895 2,836 5,483 7,937 2,185 2,946 5,057 8,040 125 Maruti Suzuki India Ltd 771 225 1,317 500 673 288 704 1,193 18 Tata Motors Ltd 1,560 348 2,985 720 1,329 420 2,294 719 7 Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd 2,340 1,708 5,018 3,260 2,383 1,740 5,012 3,290 0 Total 8,080 5,291 15,859 12,795 6,952 5,558 14,051 13,659 150 Total B (B1+B2) 19,689 12,783 38,808 31,520 18,893 13,585 37,543 32,689 342 C: Multi Purpose Vehicles (MPVs) - Van type vehicles & Max. Mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes Van Type (M1) Maruti Suzuki India Ltd 6,698 7,756 14,388 15,543 6,092 7,619 13,797 15,343 114 Tata Motors Ltd 1,901 3,381 3,027 6,302 2,145 3,448 3,510 6,202 0 Total C 8,599 11,137 17,415 21,845 8,237 11,067 17,307 21,545 114 Total of all M1 Category (B+C) 28,288 23,920 56,223 53,365 27,130 24,652 54,850 54,234 456 N1 Category : Max. Mass upto 3.5 tonnes (Goods Carrier) Max Mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes Force Motors Ltd 202 237 344 326 285 185 527 307 6 Hindustan Motors Ltd 0 3 0 13 0 3 0 12 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 4,762 5,361 8,735 10,299 3,753 4,587 7,505 9,123 1,043 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 823 723 1,649 1,325 790 750 1,591 1,434 18 Tata Motors Ltd 8,765 8,144 16,164 17,569 6,851 7,476 12,865 15,804 859 Total of all N1 Category 14,552 14,468 26,892 29,532 11,679 13,001 22,488 26,680 1,926 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 625 443 1,232 960 664 442 1,301 912 6 General Motors India Pvt Ltd 855 565 1,773 1,142 837 495 1,722 1,134 0




0 0 0 0 0 0 0 38 0 0 2 0 40

0 6 0 0 0 0 0 388 0 0 54 0 448

0 0 0 1 0 0 0 99 0 0 9 0 109

0 0 0 18 0 3 0 21 61

0 0 0 153 18 9 0 180 628

0 0 0 32 10 3 0 45 154

75 0 75 136

142 0 142 770

131 0 131 285

0 0 195 6 394 595

6 0 1,310 24 1,229 2,569

0 0 287 12 702 1,001

0 0

6 0

0 0

For the month of


For the month of
















1,214 1,178 3,872


721 2,109 2,015 1,057 742 1,935 1,957 0 804 2,520 1,765 1,507 1,002 2,658 1,894 5 2,533 7,634 5,882 4,065 2,681 7,616 5,897 11 A2: No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 Force Motors Ltd 323 396 475 784 313 387 478 678 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 338 273 673 490 346 195 659 423 15 Tata Motors Ltd 330 376 699 836 399 478 655 987 17 Total A2 991 1,045 1,847 2,110 1,058 1,060 1,792 2,088 32 Total of all M2 Category (A1+A2) 4,863 3,578 9,481 7,992 5,123 3,741 9,408 7,985 43 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 124 132 173 195 135 116 194 180 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 65 90 111 121 67 78 136 120 0 Tata Motors Ltd 20 148 25 194 0 0 0 0 32 Total A1 209 370 309 510 202 194 330 300 32 A2: Max Mass exceeding 5 tonnes but not exceeding 7.5 tonnes Eicher Motors Ltd 296 339 660 643 310 318 518 519 20 Force Motors Ltd 0 14 4 16 4 10 5 11 8 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 181 280 352 575 190 180 285 295 40 Swaraj Mazda Ltd 107 153 264 296 55 143 142 297 42 Tata Motors Ltd 1,686 1,498 3,436 3,222 1,390 1,422 2,582 3,070 833 Total A2 2,270 2,284 4,716 4,752 1,949 2,073 3,532 4,192 943 A3: Max Mass exceeding 7.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 156 97 229 162 120 44 232 95 0 Eicher Motors Ltd 1,140 1,145 2,408 2,064 1,002 1,031 2,213 1,854 17 Swaraj Mazda Ltd 155 225 369 360 149 222 256 318 0 Tata Motors Ltd 1,216 1,248 2,617 2,539 1,135 1,159 2,322 2,356 74 Total A3 2,667 2,715 5,623 5,125 2,406 2,456 5,023 4,623 91 Total of all N2 Category (A1+A2+A3) 5,146 5,369 10,648 10,387 4,557 4,723 8,885 9,115 1,066 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 77 57 143 147 42 54 100 78 40 Eicher Motors Ltd 285 217 533 472 223 187 370 378 20 Force Motors Ltd 27 35 54 53 45 16 66 31 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 395 394 753 676 406 378 705 641 1 Swaraj Mazda Ltd 187 219 399 342 125 171 265 230 12 Tata Motors Ltd 1,332 1,438 2,977 2,931 920 1,485 1,677 2,820 406 Total A 2,303 2,360 4,859 4,621 1,761 2,291 3,183 4,178 479 B: Max. Mass exceeding 7.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 Ashok Leyland Ltd 79 154 139 254 55 71 90 121 20 Eicher Motors Ltd 160 142 350 313 191 163 286 248 0 Swaraj Mazda Ltd 152 175 261 279 53 153 122 219 0


Vlro ebobqldo^_qebjlpqbvb_^iip 70 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009



2008 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd Tata Motors Ltd Total A1

Domestic Sales

For the month of



3 5 8

12 25 43

6 5 11

1 0 3 4 12

0 15 27 42 85

1 0 8 9 20

7 0 0 7

0 0 42 42

7 0 0 7

27 2 94 43 136 302

84 8 76 42 1,220 1,430

69 2 268 58 287 684

15 20 0 99 134 443

1 37 0 133 171 1,643

25 43 22 149 239 930

22 22 0 5 14 90 153

47 28 0 41 12 749 877

22 83 0 38 19 150 312

20 0 0

29 9 0

20 0 0

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

july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 71

the numbers game / siam data

siam data / the numbers game

ALL, Tata take big knock in 16-tonners Production




For the month of


For the month of


For the month of








2008 Tata Motors Ltd Total B

Domestic Sales

Bajaj Auto picks up in pass 3-wheelers









308 351 546 674 229 407 413 772 2 699 822 1,296 1,520 528 794 911 1,360 22 C: Max. Mass exceeding 12 tonnes but not exceeding 16.2 tonnes C2: No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 Ashok Leyland Ltd 2,230 787 3,470 2,184 1,076 528 1,856 1,074 230 Eicher Motors Ltd 15 0 17 4 10 3 20 27 0 Tata Motors Ltd 1,089 945 2,122 1,919 893 1,033 1,850 2,096 289 Volvo Buses India Pvt. Ltd. 0 31 0 70 0 30 0 77 0 Volvo India Pvt Ltd 48 0 82 0 49 0 82 0 0 Total C (C1+C2) 3,382 1,763 5,691 4,177 2,028 1,594 3,808 3,274 519 D: Max. Mass exceeding 16.2 tonnes No. of seats including driver exceeding 13 (Passenger Carrier) Volvo Buses India Pvt. Ltd. 0 4 0 11 0 0 0 7 0 Total D 0 4 0 11 0 0 0 7 0 Total of all M3 Category (A+B+C+D) 6,384 4,949 11,846 10,329 4,317 4,679 7,902 8,819 1,020 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 1,461 934 3,020 1,785 983 491 1,967 977 125 Eicher Motors Ltd 175 113 319 146 89 51 188 92 21 Tata Motors Ltd 4,484 1,726 8,413 3,831 3,428 1,577 6,729 3,391 310 Total A 6,120 2,773 11,752 5,762 4,500 2,119 8,884 4,460 456 B1: Max Mass exceeding 16.2 tonnes - Rigid Vehicles (a) Max. Mass exceeding 16.2 but not exceeding 25 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 3,549 607 6,384 1,051 2,276 467 5,199 864 0 Asia Motor Works Ltd 293 183 726 237 243 150 479 254 0 Eicher Motors Ltd 115 4 205 19 112 28 185 45 5 Tata Motors Ltd 6,093 3,698 12,044 7,282 5,219 3,625 9,674 6,732 91 Volvo India Pvt Ltd 67 0 96 0 0 0 0 0 29 Total (A) 10,117 4,492 19,455 8,589 7,850 4,270 15,537 7,895 125 (b) Max. Mass exceeding 25 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 98 0 98 0 217 -28 266 -18 0 Eicher Motors Ltd 6 1 6 1 31 2 40 21 0 Mercedes-Benz India Pvt Ltd 45 4 91 12 31 15 81 41 0 Tata Motors Ltd 590 366 1,070 706 344 382 680 650 0 Tatra Vectra Motors Ltd 3 0 6 0 3 0 6 0 0 Volvo India Pvt Ltd 71 16 153 37 71 20 153 26 0 Total (B) 813 387 1,424 756 697 391 1,226 720 0 Total B1 ((A)+(B)) 10,930 4,879 20,879 9,345 8,547 4,661 16,763 8,615 125 B2: Max. Mass exceeding 16.2 tonnes- Haulage Tractor (Tractor-Semi Trailer/Trailer) (B) Max. Mass exceeding 26.4 tonnes but not exceeding 35.2 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 334 0 804 0 246 70 501 87 0





2 40

6 26

88 6 291 0 0 385

342 24 687 0 0 1,053

124 6 438 0 0 568

0 0 562

0 0 1,970

0 0 906

100 70 322 492

152 31 591 774

167 90 536 793

32 0 0 131 0 163

0 0 11 142 52 205

54 0 0 232 0 286

0 0 0 10 0 0 10 173

0 0 0 2 0 0 2 207

0 0 0 15 0 0 15 301




Tata Motors Ltd Total (B)

For the month of


For the month of


















605 939

1 1,136 1 440 185 908 309 0 0 1 1,940 1 686 255 1,409 396 0 3 (C) Max. Mass exceeding 35.2 tonnes Ashok Leyland Ltd 287 21 644 30 146 0 499 34 0 0 Asia Motor Works Ltd 65 43 132 49 236 32 354 49 0 0 Eicher Motors Ltd 10 0 19 0 12 11 21 11 0 0 Tata Motors Ltd 599 0 1,196 0 398 256 758 371 11 0 Volvo India Pvt Ltd 19 0 47 0 5 3 12 4 6 0 Total (C) 980 64 2,038 79 797 302 1,644 469 17 0 Total B2 ((A)+(B)+(C)) 1,919 65 3,978 80 1,483 557 3,053 865 17 3 Total of all N3 Category (A+B1+B2) 18,969 7,717 36,609 15,187 14,530 7,337 28,700 13,940 598 668 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 231 141 466 238 245 156 460 245 5 0 Bajaj Auto Ltd 18,377 18,805 37,231 36,781 9,054 11,729 17,260 21,244 10,374 7,107 Force Motors Ltd 17 17 32 28 18 12 37 23 0 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 2,000 1,730 3,758 3,799 2,012 1,696 3,672 3,451 0 0 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 8,627 9,444 17,315 18,594 8,372 8,945 17,122 18,048 222 449 Scooters India Ltd 199 196 359 335 261 199 425 334 0 0 TVS Motor Company Ltd 301 702 444 1,363 265 707 415 1,377 0 22 Total A1 29,752 31,035 59,605 61,138 20,227 23,444 39,391 44,722 10,601 7,578 A2:No. of seats Including driver exceeding 4 but not exceeding 7 & Max.Mass not exceeding 1.5 tonnes Force Motors Ltd 106 30 191 106 44 28 91 58 56 42 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 50 0 120 20 93 27 181 92 0 0 Scooters India Ltd 146 211 285 404 208 225 381 392 6 0 Total A2 302 241 596 530 345 280 653 542 62 42 Total A (A1+A2) 30,054 31,276 60,201 61,668 20,572 23,724 40,044 45,264 10,663 7,620 B: Goods Carrier B1: Max. Mass not exceeding 1 tonne Atul Auto Limited 295 437 743 883 320 444 737 917 0 0 Bajaj Auto Ltd 1,187 670 2,310 1,419 1,148 808 2,351 1,490 0 0 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 4,227 3,532 8,078 6,688 4,062 3,547 7,987 6,847 154 24 Scooters India Ltd 310 209 497 400 319 231 493 395 0 0 Total B1 6,019 4,848 11,628 9,390 5,849 5,030 11,568 9,649 154 24 B2: Others Force Motors Ltd 169 63 278 177 339 93 485 188 0 0 Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd 1,889 1,311 3,432 2,652 1,603 980 3,198 2,132 0 0 Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd 21 0 21 0 0 0 0 0 24 0 Scooters India Ltd 152 206 233 340 167 209 301 327 0 0 Total B2 2,231 1,580 3,964 3,169 2,109 1,282 3,984 2,647 24 0 Total B (B1+B2) 8,250 6,428 15,592 12,559 7,958 6,312 15,552 12,296 178 24 Total of all TH Category (A+B) 38,304 37,704 75,793 74,227 28,530 30,036 55,596 57,560 10,841 7,644


Vlro ebobqldo^_qebjlpqbvb_^iip 72 / Commercial Vehicle / july 2009




4 24

Domestic Sales

For the month of

09-10 0 0

0 3

0 0 0 11 33 44 44 1,025

0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1,097

5 18,878 0 0 464 0 0 19,347

0 15,777 0 10 699 0 58 16,544

98 0 6 104 19,451

84 0 0 84 16,628

0 0 236 0 236

0 0 43 0 43

3 0 24 0 27 263 19,714

0 0 0 0 0 43 16,671

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july 2009 / Commercial Vehicle / 73

RNI NO. MAHENG / 2006 / 20842

Commercial Vehicle July. 2009 Issue  

Commercial Vehicle July. 2009 Issue