Q: You have the capabilities from design to development and manufacture. Is there still a missing link in the value chain?
A: We already have ancillary companies making the key components that are useful for us. Regarding missing links there are two. One is related to seating systems where we want to focus on high-end reclining coach seats, and the other is to build the capability of testing and validation in our engineering space.
Q: But testing and validation are under the purview of the vehicle manufacturer. As coach builders do you require these capabilities?
A: There are two aspects to it. We are into bus and coach building; when you mount the body on the chassis, it becomes a homogeneous product. Validation and testing capability would only increase our understanding of what our OEM clients want; that value we could add in the bus or coach design to meet the requirements of our customers, specific to their chassis attributes. Secondly, with ‘Columbus’ we have recently received an OEM status for a niche product; we plan to focus only on this as it befits our financial limitations to fully support the product in the market. To introduce ‘Columbus’ in the market, both for domestic and export, we will need to have the know-how and skills for validation and testing.
Q: Sometimes, possessing the entire value chain is not sought after as the focus could get diluted. In which case, would you just do away with certain things while you add on some new capabilities?
A: No, not at all. I wouldn’t do away with anything. For us, there has been a clear strategic intent to get into these allied verticals. We could have manufactured FRP parts or seats in our bus building facilities itself. We are not doing that because they are specialised fields in their own right with a totally different set of competencies, technical know-how and processes required that are completely unique and with no connection to bus-building. They are created as separate entities within the group with the requisite skill-sets, technologies, operations, tie-ups and partnerships; they are highly focused and become our own vendors. The vision is to create such companies that can feed their own market requirements and grow on their own.
Q: Tells us about your plan to get into reclining seats production?
A: Seating is a standalone system for bus and coach. In the next three years the plan is to find a foreign collaborator for reclining seats manufacturing as we need the technology to compete with the big names in the industry today, for those markets. We are already in talks with a few companies.