The African journey of Indian truck-makers is set to get more crowded in the near future, with two more manufacturers set to join their established compatriots in the slugfest with Chinese companies and importers of second-hand European trucks for a share of the 50,000 units sold annually.
Asia Motor Works is the latest Indian company exploring Africa. Mahindra Navistar is at present test-marketing in the continent which has long been a major export destination for Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland.
"Export has been a compelling proposition for Indian truck makers," Anirudh Bhuwalka, managing director and CEO of Asia Motor Works told Hindustan Times. "We have already laid foundations for exports. This year you will see us exporting trucks to Africa and west Asia."
The company has been selling small volumes in India's neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan.
"In the medium term, exports could account for one-fifth of our total sales," Bhuwalka said. "We are now identifying ideal markets in Africa."
Shipping trucks to Africa and west Asia has become part of growth strategy for Indian companies. Mahindra Navistar Automobile Ltd (MNAL), the medium and heavy commercial vehicle joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra and US-based Navistar, will start exporting trucks to Africa this year.
MNAL is testing two of its trucks in South Africa and is in the process of evaluating customer feedback.
Indian medium and heavy truck and bus exports, largely to Africa and west Asia, grew by 43% to 29,272 units in the fiscal year 2010-11.
According to a KPMG study on the global truck industry, "Africa plays an interesting role in the expansion strategies of truck OEMs from China and India. Largely because the market environment and customer preferences are similar to their respective home markets."