By APA BUREAU:
India’s commercial vehicle industry is on the growth track. Modernisation of highways, formulation of decisive regulations, strict implementation of existing norms and rapid progress in the economy are set to have positive impact on the industry.
Commercial vehicle manufacturer, VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV), a joint venture between the Volvo Group and Eicher Motors, expects the company and the industry to sustain the double-digit growth momentum at least for the next two years before the BS-VI norms kick in.
VECV, which is the fourth-largest commercial vehicle maker in the country, is working on plans to bring in new products. The company is looking at modernisation across segments and better technology products with a new platform in the four to nine tonne range. It has been investing Rs 500-600 crore annually in modernisation for the past few years.
In operation since July 2008, the company has the complete range of Eicher branded trucks and buses, VE Powertrain, Eicher’s components businesses as well as the sales and distribution business of Volvo trucks within India. VECV’s vision is to be recognised as the industry leader driving modernisation in commercial transportation in India and the developing world.
Owing to the entry of e-commerce industries and Uberisation the expectations from commercial vehicles which form the backbone for e-commerce logistics has soared. Replacement demand also has become very strong, say industry experts. Overloading restrictions are being implemented well. India, for the first time in three decades, has increased the official maximum load-carrying capacity of heavy vehicles, including trucks, by 20-25 percent. While many say the move will hurt manufacturers of commercial vehicles by bringing down demand and increasing costs, it may also result in greater cost efficiencies for logistic companies as they would be able to ferry more goods per trip.
Historically, India had allowed lower axle loads as well as lower vehicle speeds due to the inability of the roads and highway infrastructure to support such higher loads or speeds. With the modernisation of the country’s roads and highways, it is natural for the government to look at higher load carrying capacities in trucks. In principle, most commercial vehicle makers have supported an increase in axle loads up to the European levels.
The new trailer code also means there will be more flexibility; loading and unloading will be fast. It will help the industry in the long run. India’s overall economy is growing at a fast pace with a special push from the rural side.
The commercial vehicle manufacturers have to re-align their capacities to adapt to the new norms which will have some cost implications. Another price increase is expected from 2020 when the BS-VI emission norms would be implemented across the country. This is expected to lead to freight and logistics companies advancing their purchasing decisions. However, that will have only temporary impact on the CV industry. If economy has to grow, the number of trucks have to go up, say most industry experts.
Eicher Trucks and Buses (ETB) is present in the range of 4.9T-16T trucks. It has an increasing market share in the 16T-49T heavy duty trucks segment. Eicher Pro Series buses also is strong in the Light and Medium segment with leadership in school buses.
In line with the vision to drive modernisation in the commercial vehicle industry, Eicher recently introduced seven-speed transmission technology in the entire range of medium duty trucks. In the first phase, seven-speed transmission will be launched in Eicher Pro 3015 and Eicher Pro 1114XP to optimise drivability, infuse fuel efficiency and productivity while reducing driver fatigue.
The new four-cylinder E494 engine with seven-speed ET50S7 gearbox comprises seven forward and one reverse gear, designed for smooth gearshifts and less torque interruption. Eicher has been known as ‘Mileage Ka Baadshah’ for delivering best in-class fuel efficiency in LMD segment. With innovations like seven-speed, the company hopes to deliver improved uptime for the vehicles and business profitability for customers. According to the company it has the highest payload in the 14-15T GVW segment with significantly higher revenues.
Commercial vehicles engines are designed to operate under various tough conditions and seven-speed transmission is a superior innovation, enabling the vehicle to operate at a higher torque range (due to flat torque curve) and eliminating the need to shift gears frequently. The technology helps drivers to reach the top gear fast by optimising drivability in the lower gear and incentivising performance in the higher. This, in turn, ensures superior turnaround, optimises engine performance and avoids unnecessary acceleration.
VECV has introduced two new heavy-duty trucks – Eicher Pro 6049 and Eicher Pro 6041 in the 49 tonne and 41 tonne categories, respectively. The new tractor trailer, Eicher Pro 6049, offers customers a choice to upgrade to a more modern and efficient truck addressing the mass market for variety of applications in 6×4 tractor category.
It has been designed to deliver optimum performance and peak power at 250 HP for better customer profitability. It manifests the prowess of the Eicher Pro 6000 series and offers a refined trucking experience with the superior VEDX BS IV SCR engine, newly designed ergonomics and robust Eicher aggregates for best in-class fuel efficiency.
Eicher Pro 6041 is India’s first 41 tonnage rigid haulage truck and offers a payload advantage of 3.5 tonne over a 37 tonnage truck. The vehicle is powered by VEDX8 engine, which is the biggest and the most fuel-efficient engine available in the category. At 250 HP and 950 Nm torque, the engine delivers the highest power and torque combination in its segment. Pro 6041 is also the first vehicle in its segment to get an overdrive gearbox for higher top speed and better mileage.
“These trucks are designed to maximise business profitability while optimising on the overall cost efficiency. They have class-leading fuel efficiency and industry-first features like revolutionary ‘Mbooster +’ technology that optimises acceleration through multi-mode system, Volvo Group Engine Management System EMS 3.0 for precise fuel injection, a power packed and reliable driveline, Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS) with unique ‘Fuel Coaching’ feature for real time fuel efficiency improvements, state-of the- art ‘Eicher Live’ telematics, and other value-added offerings,” Aggarwal said, in a press statement.
A strong player in the light and medium duty truck segment with 33 percent market share, VECV has remained a marginal player in the heavy-duty truck segment with five percent market share. The company is banking on the two new launches to help boost volumes by 50 percent to 1,500 units a month this financial year, he said.
The important new technologies in the CV industry are automated manual transmission (AMT), which will improve engine efficiency. Since BS-VI will be fully electronic-based there will be increased use of telematics, increasing safety features with better cabins and electrification. These trends are the guidelines for VECV’s future products. It has introduced a fully electric bus for Mumbai. It will supply 40 fully electric nine-metre 30-seater buses.
Growth And Investment
VECV which reported 63 percent growth in total sales at 6,930 units in June 2018 as compared to 3,921 units in June 2017, plans to invest more than Rs 2,000 crore in the next three years to enhance capacity and expand its product portfolio. The funds, reportedly, will be utilised in expanding engine making capacity as well as vehicle output by 50 percent. Plans include an investment into a new plant, the decision on which is going to come up for board approval shortly. Besides annual capital expenditure of Rs 500 crore for the next three years, VECV will be investing an additional Rs 600 crore in the new plant.
Export is in the company’s priority list. Last year it exported 9,000 units of trucks and buses. It sees huge potential in markets like Africa and Indonesia. These markets will also give access to more markets such as other countries in the African continent. It also plans to leverage Volvo Group’s network in these markets. Revenue contribution of exports at present is 15 percent for VECV which can go up to 20 percent with the new markets.