Tatra’s loss has turned into Tata Motor’s and Ashok Leyland’s gain.
While the Ashok Leyland-Larsen & Toubro (L&T) consortium has emerged the lowest bidder for Indian Army’s rocket launcher vehicles, Tata Motors has bagged orders for 6X6 high-mobility multi-axle trucks to mount radar applications for the Indian Air Force.
The defence truck business was opened to domestic manufacturers, including Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland, after Czech company Tatra came under probe in a corruption scandal a year ago. Former army chief VK Singh had alleged that he had been offered a bribe to buy a faulty batch of Tatra trucks for the army. Tatra says the charges are baseless.
Two other bids involving more than 1,000 units of 6X6 and 8X8 multi-axle trucks from the Army is slated to open shortly. Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland will compete with Tatra and Russian company Ural for these contracts.
"I estimate at least 8000-10,000 vehicles would need to be replaced and another 8000-10,000 new vehicles will be required,” said Vernon Norohna, VP, defence and government business, Tata Motors.
Such orders from defence forces for supply and maintenance of trucks costing R75 lakh-R1 crore each will translate into a R20,000-crore opportunity for truck makers.
“The good thing about the controversy is it has opened up an opportunity for Indian companies,” said Nithin Seth, executive director, Ashok Leyland.
Traditionally, different specialty vehicles came with different equipment bought from various countries.
For instance, Swedish Bofors guns came in with Scania trucks while Russian BM 21 Grad rocket system it came with KamAZ trucks.
So, the army ended up with a huge fleet of foreign trucks.