Manufacturers are betting big on the Indian commercial vehicle segment

The ongoing Auto Expo 2012 is not just about futuristic cars or superbikes. Commercial vehicle manufacturers, both from India and abroad, are also showcasing their new offerings and future buses and trucks aimed at tapping the Indian market where the economy is still in good health and road infrastructure is improving fast.

Be it Ashok Leyland, Tata Motors, Man Force, AMW or Paccar, all are betting big on the Indian commercial vehicle segment. Besides introducing trucks with increased load capacity, the focus is also on luxury buses as the government is pumping in money to build a pan-Indian network of highways and improving public transport.

The expo has seen Man Force Trucks making its entry into the bus segment by launching its first 45-seat luxury bus, Man Airobus, priced at Rs.60 lakh. The company hopes to sell 250 units in the first year and then double its sales in the next three to four years. “This initiative will make a full-scale commercial vehicle manufacturer. Gradually, we will also enter the city bus segment to increase our portfolio,” said Man Force Trucks Managing Director Sudhir Mehta.

Similarly, the Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland unveiled two light commercial vehicles — Stile and Partner — developed in partnership with Japan's Nissan, besides showcasing ‘Jan Bus' — world's first single-step, front engine, fully-flat floor bus for urban transportation.

“Feature-rich and technologically advanced, the Jan Bus is an innovative, well thought-out transport solution that promises passengers easy, comfortable and affordable city travel…it can be configured for various conditions, such as a BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport System), airport tarmac and normal city travel,” said Ashok Leyland Managing Director Vinod K. Dasari. Another commercial vehicles maker Asia Motor Works (AMW) also made its entry into the luxury bus segment by unveiling of its 57-seater bus, besides announcing plans to export trucks in 2012-13. “The luxury bus segment currently is of the size of about 3,000-3,500 units annually and is growing. Looking at this demand, we are launching our 57-seater bus, which will be available by the middle of the year,” said AMW MD and CEO Anirudh Bhuwalka.

While Tata Motors has displayed Tata Starbus fuel cell to showcase its research and development capabilities, one of world's leading truck-maker Paccar is participating in the Auto Expo for the first time to explore possibilities for making an entry. It had already announced that it would tap India for component sourcing and developing technology for its global operations.

“Our focus in India right now is to successfully launch the technical centre in Pune to develop solutions for global requirements and introduce ourselves to the supplier base here,” said Paccar Inc Managing Director (India Initiative) Donald J. Schulte. It is showcasing its premium DAF CF truck equipped with 180 horsepower engine.

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