There is a silent revolution taking place in the commercial vehicle industry in the country, and the old and dilapidated trucks that are everywhere on Indian roads are slowly being replaced by swanky technology-heavy and driver-friendly trucks.
What is even more heartening is that there is no one agent of this change but the whole industry from Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland to newcomers Volvo Eicher and Mahindra Navistar.
The new trucks are not only more powerful, better equipped to carry load and more fuel efficient but also environment friendly. The fact that they also look good (see picture) are just an added attraction.
“Our new platform of trucks—the U truck, will replace our entire fleet of existing trucks by 2013," said R Seshasayee, managing director, Ashok Leyland, country's second largest commercial vehicle manufacturer. "A lot of research has gone into these trucks and we have developed entirely new engines for this. They may look and drive like those in the west but are developed and conceived very much in India."
Part of the change is driven by regulations. The new emission norms when 13 cities will be upgraded to BS IV and the rest to BS III, coming into effect from April 2010, is forcing manufacturers to tidy up their act. The added cost and resultant increase in price is not looked at as a deterrent.
“I do not think that high price will affect sales. Trucks should be considered as an investment to create transportation capacity, which pays in the long term,” said Ravi Pisharody, president-commercial vehicle business, Tata Motors.
The company launched its Prima range (the high profile world truck) at the Expo, which is also set to replace its existing line up of trucks in future.
With expressways crisscrossing the country now, very high-end products, once believed to be unthinkable in India are now being produced. Mercedes-Benz for example, launched its 3-axle intercity luxury buses for the first time in India. “We are looking at India as our new growth frontier,” said Hartmut Schick, head of Daimler buses.