By T Murrali:
Shifting its gears to cruise mode, to gain momentum in its twelfth year of journey in India, MAN Trucks India Private Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of MAN Truck & Bus AG, Germany, has announced a slew of initiatives to meet its growth targets.Last month the company introduced two new intercity bus models. Soon it will be launching a heavy-duty mining truck. The CNG truck it has been developing for the last one-year-and-a-half for the Indian market will be launched in 2019. It will introduce diesel-run BS-VI trucks a year before the norm is enforced in India. Similar technology is operational in MAN Trucks in the developed markets.
In addition to these, MAN Trucks India will introduce Mobile24 & MAN ProfiDrive and new digital tools for customer connect. Mobile24 is a 24×7 roadside assistance service that will support all MAN trucks and buses operating in the country, especially haulage vehicles. This will also be included in repair and maintenance contracts (RMC) that can be customised.
The company will also offer customer solutions using a digital platform that will make the interaction with the company more value-driven and efficient. These initiatives will be rolled out in a phased manner during this calendar year. The announcement was made at the company’s factory in Pithampur to mark the successful conclusion of ‘The MAN Expedition’ .
Joerg Mommertz, Chairman and Managing Director, MAN Trucks India, said the company which is present only in the M&HCV segment in India since 2006 is upbeat that this segment in the country would grow in the range of six to seven percent in FY 2018 and beyond. The M&HCV segment comprises a range of vehicles from16 up to 49-tonne payload.
MAN Trucks has about 125 variants in this category, covering all market segments. There are some segments where the company wanted to intensify its market activities on trends related to long haulage owing to the implementation of Goods and Services Tax.
The company that sold over 4,500 trucks and over 100 buses in 2016, grew by 27 percent in 2017. It aims to perform better than the industry average in 2018 and beyond by boosting domestic sales and expediting exports. Mommertz said MAN Trucks pegged its growth plans not on discounts but on the vehicle performance, its reliability, cost of ownership and fuel economy. “Our products sell because we offer the right prices for the right product,” he said.
“We have always offered solutions that improve customer experience with MAN brand. With Mobile24, customers get the assurance of MAN care at all times.” Asked if the company will establish tie-ups with some organisations offering 24×7 assistance or will create its own network, he said, “We have our own setup in place and will work through our dealerships. Our objective is to address the repair issues for the customers within 48 hours, which is the mean time to restore the vehicle back on the road. Initially the company will deploy 100 vehicles to support Mobile24 across India. It will take up some specific points to support existing dealers.
The MAN ProfiDrive programme will provide training to drivers to help them operate with better safety and deliver greater fuel efficiency. “Awareness about safe driving practices is the other aspect that the ProfiDrive programme will aim to create. Digitisation is increasingly becoming a tool of convenience for customers and we plan to offer solutions to make it easier for them to connect with MAN. We are confident that these initiatives will make the overall association of customers with MAN more value driven,” he said.
Elaborating the programme for the drivers, he said a truck will have lots of features. When the driver moves from one truck to another, how well will he be able to adapt to the new features, is a big question. Cruise control is standard in trucks manufactured by the company but when a driver from another truck comes in, he never uses it. Similarly, it has exhaust valve brake which improves the truck’s efficiency and the life of its service brakes.
The idea is to focus on the fact that if the driver uses the truck properly it will give good fuel efficiency – all these things need to be taught at frequent intervals, which is a must in today’s context. Therefore, the company is conducting class-room and field sessions. It has a group of ‘master drivers’ who have exhibited their skills working around India and they will train new-comers on the nuances of driving specific to MAN trucks.
With 35 years of expertise, MAN ProfiDrive has made a significant contribution to the all-round support for business owners, fleet managers and drivers in over 67 countries worldwide. It has continuously improved and expanded in terms of its daily dealings with customers as well as the available training portfolio.
These initiatives compliment the reliability and efficiency of the MAN CLA Evo haulage series. The products offer unique benefits such as higher payload in their respective categories; improved fuel efficiency; 20-hour duty cycle; and maximum product lifecycle. Offered along with aftersales customer solutions such as Repair Maintenance Contracts (RMC), lubricants and coolant, customers get the best value proposition. The established TCO (total cost of ownership) concept is one of the significant benefits that MAN customers have experienced over the years. Some of the earliest vehicles sold by MAN Trucks in India are still operational, the company said. These include tractors that transport over dimensional cargo (ODC) having clocked nearly 10 lakh kms and continue to do so, he indicated.
“We strongly believe in the heavy truck business and want to gain volumes by entering all market segments to achieve sustainable growth in the haulage business in India. Growth in industrial production and in GDP will lead to higher transport volumes; for example, if the GDP growth is five percent in a particular year, the transport volume will also increase by similar percentage points. This would lead to a sustainable course for the total industry, and here we would like to get a bigger share. What I have seen of the truck industry is that 10 to 15 percent growth for a few years is not sustainable. The industry is unpredictable; it depends on changing legislation as also changes in logistics. The logistic chain is different now as inventories have come down. Companies do not stock up but believe in having inventory on wheels. Logistics has to be flexible, but it also depends on the demand from customers,” he said.
On the learning from the Indian market he said one cannot approach the market by down-specking a European product. “You must have a product designed and made in India to meet Indian market needs, otherwise you will not be price competitive. Trying to sell an imported product at a slightly lower price does not work anymore; you have to design the product here to match local conditions with a high degree of localisation. We have to apply the sustainable business concept,” Mommertz said.
The Pune headquartered company has it state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Pithampur, near Indore in Madhya Pradesh. This earlier belonged to the joint venture that the company had with Force Motors during the first six years since inception. The plant makes a range of products including tippers for off-road and construction, haulage for regular and over dimensional cargo, and special application trucks such as fire tenders, garbage compactors, concrete mixers, boom pumps, tip trailers and bulkers. The average localisation level is around 82 percent. The product range for India is developed at MAN Trucks R&D centre in Pune.
The company has an installed capacity to produce 9,000 vehicles annually in this plant. Of the total production, about 40 percent is exported to South Asian, African and the Middle East markets. The company has sold over 27,000 trucks since it started its India operations in 2006. It supports its customers through a network of 65 touch points in India and one each in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.