Two years after they promised to change the way freight moves in India, the evolution of the trucking industry appears to be a lost story.
Introduction of a new range of smart-looking trucks in 2010-11 notwithstanding, the face of the Indian trucking remains age old, archaic, dilapidated vehicles trudging along slowly on the western ghats. So, what went wrong?
"At present, the share of the World Truck in our sales - 1,000 out of 200,000 - is not significant," said Ravi Pisharody, president, commercial vehicles, Tata Motors. "The market has not matured enough for these kind of sophisticated vehicles. We need to educate the trucking community. Our primary aim was to be ready with such vehicles before overseas players enter."
They have indeed entered but the landscape has not changed.
The likes of Daimler, Volvo, MAN and Scania have put pressure on the home-grown truck makers but it may take more time for it to show results.
The new trucks not only offer creature comforts to the driver that include power steering, air conditioning, steering-mounted controls and even bluetooth, they are also more fuel efficient and provide more haulage capacity.
"These trucks have not percolated to the entire spectrum of the industry," said Rajeev Saharia, executive marketing director, Ashok Leyland. "In volume segments like tippers we have just entered and in haulage we still have to. In the next 2-3 years half of our sales would be accounted for by these vehicles."
And till such time, we will have to keep honking for the trucks to give way.