With thousands of city buses to be purchased under the ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) by various State governments, major automobile manufacturers, including Ashok Leyland, Tata Motors, Volvo and Eicher have showcased their high-capacity buses at the Auto Expo here.

From diesel to eco-friendly CNG, all variants of buses are on display, promising low maintenance and higher efficiency, and also better comfort and safety for passengers. The effort is to provide high-capacity buses that are suitable for bus rapid transit (BRT) transport system in metros and mini-metros, which the Centre is keenly promoting.

Swedish auto major Volvo is eyeing the bus market and has launched new CNG bus, besides showcasing buses from its luxury segment. “We are in talks with various governments, including the Delhi government for these buses, which have additional security features like temperature control,” said Volvo Bus India Managing Director Akash Passey.

Apart from showcasing its latest offerings, Hinduja group’s flagship company Ashok Leyland has unveiled India’s first electric plug-in CNG hybrid bus, HYBUS, which improves savings of fuel by almost 30 per cent.

Similarly, VE Commercial Vehicles, a joint venture between Volvo and Eicher, has also unveiled its semi low floor bus with diesel engine while its CNG variant would hit the market soon. “We are talking to many State governments for their city transports. First, we will launch the diesel buses, which will be followed by CNG versions,” said the company’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Siddhartha Lal.

In the luxury segment, Mercedes-Benz India has launched its multi-axle luxury bus. Priced at Rs. 85 lakh, the bus is powered by a Euro-III engine with six cylinders. “As the market for luxury bus is increasing fast, we hope to do well and be a major player,” said Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director Wilfried Aulbur.

Explaining the growing interest of bus-makers in India, a senior Union Urban Development Ministry official said: “As the Centre has announced release of almost Rs. 5,000 crore to various State governments for the purchase of over 15,000 buses for city transport, it is a big business opportunity for bus manufactures that is why we see foreign players also entering the Indian market.”

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