With the controversy surrounding Tatra trucks shaking up the defence vehicle industry, competitors are looking to cash in on the opportunity.
Army chief Gen VK Singh recently kicked up a storm saying he was offered a Rs 14-crore bribe to sanction an order for 600 Tatra trucks.Tatra’s monopoly over the 8X8 tank-transporter trucks is under challenge already, as Indian truck makers Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland have been permitted to participate in the bidding for the first time ever.
“Three vehicles — Tata, Ashok Leyland and BEML’s Tatra trucks — are under trial,” said an industry official involved in the defence vehicle business for two decades.
“But Tatra is in a fix since they are quoting a huge price. Indian manufacturers are in a position to supply superior products at a much lower price.”
“Yes, Tata Motors is participating in the bid,” a spokesperson for the company said.
Tatas will showcase their “8X8 Command and Control Container”, primarily used as a missile system carrier, air-defence weapons platform and missile firing unit. A spokesperson for Ashok Leyland , when contacted, said, “We cannot give answers to your query today.”
Tatra trucks, assembled by defence ministry undertaking Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), are priced above Rs 90 lakh. Tata and Leyland trucks are likely to be 15-20% cheaper.
It is learnt that there is a requirement for 550 such vehicles, which will be inducted within a year once the trial is over. In the wake of the controversy, the Army may go for re-tendering and Volvo Eicher and AMW may jump into the fray.
For 2012, apart from tank transporters, the Army requires 1,400 light armoured vehicles, 1,200 light protected patrol vehicles and 1,600 infantry mobility vehicles, with an approximate valuation of R2,500-crore.
Till date, Leyland has supplied 65,000 Stallion trucks to the Army. Tatas have supplied around 25,000 vehicles.
Mahindra Defence Systems has mine-protected and light-combat vehicles.