Almost six years after rival Tata Motors hit the small commercial vehicle (SCV) segment with its four-wheel truck Ace, Ashok Leyland has entered this segment in collaberation with Nissan. The Hinduja-owned company is preparing for a product offensive in the range between one tonne and 3.5 tonne.
The idea is to launch a seven seater van, a mini bus and another small truck besides the recently launched mini truck Dost which has a payload of 1.25 tonne. The company also plans CNG and electric version of Dost in the near term.V Sumantran, executive vice chairman, Hinduja Automotive told Hindustan Times that the company has decided not to enter the sub-one tonne segment which is already crowded with several mini trucks and vans from Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Force Motors, Piaggio and Hindustan Motors.
Despite being a late entrant, Ashok Leyland wants to be aggressive in the SCV segment as the segment became too big to ignore. From the current 353,000 units, the segment is expected to grow to 520,000 units in next three years.
The ban of large trucks and usage of small vehicles inside the city coupled with retail boom fuelled the requirement for such vehicles. Also, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, laying out 3,98,000 km roads connecting thousands of small villages, is set to replace bullock carts and locally-assembled vehicles with mainstream pick ups and vans in interior India.
To bring out a strong small vehicle portfolio Ashok Leyland, which has been hitherto a medium and heavy commercial vehicle player, has joined hands with Japanese global major Nissan which has an own medium term target to grow its commercial vehicle volume from 8,50,000 to 1.3 million. Ashok Leyland’s plant with an initial 55,000 unit capacity at Hosur is being ramped up.
Sumantran said that the Dost would be available across the country in 6 to 8 months as the plant would be fully ready by then. Dost comes with 1.5 litre turbo charged, 55 hp common rail direct injection (CRDI) engine at Rs 3.79 lakh for the base version and Rs 4.37 lakh for the high end with power steering, air condition and mobile charger.