The LCV (light commercial vehicle) joint venture between Ashok Leyland of Hinduja Group and Nissan Motor Company of Japan has gone on stream with the roll out of its first product, Ashok Leyland Dost, from the Hosur facility of Ashok Leyland.

The commercial launch of Dost is expected to commence sometime this quarter.

The joint venture, Ashok Leyland Nissan Vehicles, is also planning to launch a 6-tonne truck and a mini van after the roll-out of Dost, the pick-up vehicle.

Since it is produced under its badge, Ashok Leyland will do the marketing of Dost.

Dost, it is argued, will primarily appeal to customers in the segment, which comprises Tata Ace, Mahindra's Maxximo and Genio.

The company is hoping to scale up the production capacity to 55,000 units over the next one-and-a-half years.

Touted as a brand new offering, Ashok Leyland Dost is built on contemporary technology and promises to offer customers a new experience. The 1.25-tonne payload capacity Dost is equipped with 55 hp (horse power), three cylinder 1.5-litre CRDI (common rail direct fuel injection) engine. The Euro-look cab is roomy and comfortable, claim officials from the joint venture.

Dost is expected to be made available in three variants with BS-III and BS-IV versions.

Dost, born out of a unique amalgam of Japanese quality and technology and the frugal engineering capabilities of Ashok Leyland, is Nissan's first price-centric product.

Andy Palmer, Executive Vice-President of Nissan Motor Company, conceded that Nissan, a leader in LCV globally, couldn't have produced Dost on its own. “It's a landmark product for Ashok Leyland,” said V. Sumantran, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Hinduja Automotive Ltd. and also Chairman of Nissan Ashok Leyland Powertrains Ltd. The LCV joint venture, Mr. Sumantran said, would set up independent dedicated dealer networks under two brands, Leyland and Nissan, to market the and service the products of the company in India. The customer profile and their earning systems were different in the LCV segment vis-à-vis the heavy commercial vehicle segment. “Most of them are individual owners or entrepreneurs. They can't afford to keep the vehicle at service point or out of work for a long time,” he said. Hence, Ashok Leyland had decided to set up a dedicated dealer network to support the LCV customer's needs, Mr. Sumantran added.

To a query, he said that there won't be any overlap in having dedicated Ashok Leyland-branded and Nissan-branded dealer outlets. Initially, there would be 25 outlets. These would be main nodes. There would be satellite nodes as well around these main nodes, he said. The number of main nodes would be increased to 100 by next year, he said.