To be held at Moscow, Russia, between September 04, 2017, and September 09, 2017, the COMTRANS CV show is aiming at yet another round of success. The biennial event, supported by the Ministry of Trade and Industries of Russian Federation and the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Volkswagen, Scania, MAN, Volvo, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Ford Sollers, Isuzu, Hyundai, Hino. DAF, JAC, Foton, FAW, Yutong. Jost, Lohr, CIMC Trailer, Weilton, Koluman, ZF, Wabco, Binotto, Hyva, Knorr-Bremse, Krone, SAF-Holland, Thermo King, BPW-OST, Fuwa, BorgWarner, and many others showcase their achievement. Spread over 40,000 sq. m. area, the fair, also supported by the Association of European Businesses (AEB), will include many premiers and innovations from CV majors. To highlight trucks, vans, buses, trailers, all-terrain vehicles, components, lubes, tyres, tools and workshop equipment, leasing and insurance services among others, COMTRANS 2017, will conduct business programmes and host the 17th annual award ceremony of the “Best Commercial Vehicle of the Year in Russia”. Also awarded will be the Truck of the year, Van of the year, Bus of the year, Prospect of the year, and a Special award. For the first time, the awards will include two new categories – Trailer of the year and Person of the year. Attracting 214 companies from 13 countries, the CV fair, included in the official calendar of automotive transport exhibitions of the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), will have the CEOs of manufacturer-companies, representatives from professional associations (OICA, OAR, RAS, Russian Engineering Union, IRU) together with the governmental authorities (Ministry of Trade and Industries, Ministry of Transport, the Committee of Transport of the State Duma of the Russian Federation) participate in the business summit (business programmes) held September 05 and September 06, 2017.
Society of Indian Automobile manufactures (SIAM) is all set to organise the 57th Annual Convention, which will be held on 7th September, 2017 at Hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi. The theme of this year’s convention is ‘Building the Nation, Responsibly’. The sessions of the programme are ‘Designed & Engineered in India’; ‘Regulatory Policies: Analysis of Impact’; ‘Transforming Mobility’ & ‘Think Global, Act Local or Think Local, Act Global’.
The much-awaited event of the automobile industry will see leaders from government, industry, thought leaders, automotive experts and other stake holders coming together to address some of the important & ongoing issues, and discuss developments happening in the automobile industry. The Convention will offer a common platform, where more than 1000 global and Indian automotive industry leaders and various stakeholders will be interacting and discussing opportunities and challenges of the future.
The Chief Guest of the event, Mr Anant G Geete, Hon’ble Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, along with the Guests of Honour, Mr Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, and Mr Babul Supriyo, Hon’ble Minister of State for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, will grace the occasion.
Mr Vinod K Dasari, President, SIAM and Managing Director, Ashok Leyland will deliver the annual address in the Inaugural Session. Panels of renowned industry leaders will be sharing their thoughts during the convention. Some of the distinguished speakers are Mr Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Government of India; Mr Ian Yarnold, Head, International Vehicle Standards Division, Department of Transport, United Kingdom; Dr K Sivan, Distinguished Scientist and Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Department of Space, Government of India; Mr Mike Hawes, Chief Executive Officer, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, United Kingdom, Mr Eyal Rosner, Founder, Beyond Mobility and Former Director, Fuel Choices Initiative of Prime Minister’s Office, Israel & more.
The Convention is supported by SIAM members who will be present at the Convention.
MECO Meters Pvt. Ltd., has launched a battery capacity tester 6390, designed for measuring the internal resistance, open circuit voltage and terminal temperature of secondary battery including Nickel-metal hydride battery (NiMH), Nickel cadmium battery (NiCd), Lithium-ion battery (Li-ion), alkaline battery and lead-acid battery. The new battery capacity tester uses AC four terminal -method to measure internal impedance which it does by eliminating lead impedance and contact impedance in a bid to get the accurate results. The meter is claimed to measure resistance from 4mΩ to 400Ω with minimum resolution of 1μΩ. Voltage measured by 6390 is up to 60V with resolution up to 1mV. The meter has been tested to operate in temperatures from (-) 20 degree Celsius to 60 degree Celsius. The key highlight of the compact and light weight meter, is a dual display that displays both the internal impedance and voltage of the battery simultaneously. Boasting of 99 sets of composite comparator function, it (meter) can be set at impedance and voltage values, and can accurately detect battery deterioration. Pin type leads, which can easily contact the battery electrodes, are supplied as standard to offer accurate four-terminal measurement. Other features include a memory and read function, manual data logging (999 Data sets), and online testing without the need to shut down the battery. A user interface software additionally connects the meter to a PC using the RS232C Cable.
In the third race of FIA European Truck Racing Championship, Adam Lacko, driving a Freightliner for team Buggyra, took a well deserved win on Nurburgring’s Eifel track.
Adam Lacko, driving his Buggyra International Racing System Freightliner, took a commanding win in race three of the Nürburgring round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship on July 02, 2017. Braving rainy weather, Lacko, the three-time winner at the Truck Grand Prix, extended his growing point’s advantage over his competitors, continuing his quest for a first FIA European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC) title. He now leads by 46 points. Tankpool24 Racing entrant Norbert Kiss finished second in his Mercedes-Benz whereas Lion Truck Racing’s MAN of Anthony Janiec took the third place. Anthony took the third place for the second time this season. For Lacko, the win at Nurburgring marked the second win after he clinched the title at the earlier round at Misano, Italy.
With weather conditions improving slightly overnight, indicating clearly that a dry surface could end Lacko’s wet weather domination in his Freightliner, Kiss won the Super Pole session. Norbert Kiss and Antonio Albacete – two drivers involved in a collision in an earlier race, set the pace in the Super Pole session held on the morning of July 02, 2017. The Tankpool24 Racing Mercedes-Benz driver initially recording 1:54.725 and his closest rival, Albacete, in the Truck Sport Lutz Bernau MAN being just 0.099 seconds down on his time. But it was local man Jochen Hahn who performed a late lunge with just seconds remaining in the session to claim second, a mere 0.051 seconds and push Albacete down to third on the grid. Fourth fastest, Adam Lacko, taking a clean sweep the day before, was met with much-improved conditions. It meant the playing field was level. David Vršecký, in the second of the Buggyra International Racing System Freightliners, qualified just behind his team-mate and had Steffi Halm in Reinert Racing MAN for company on row three of the grid. Row four of the grid was taken by MAN drivers, with Sascha Lenz in the SL Trucksport entry having a similar machine for company. It was a Lion Truck Racing Team entry for Frenchman Anthony Janiec. The earlier podium finisher, Gerd Körber, qualified ninth, with his compatriot André Kursim alongside. The Tankpool24 racer also topped the Promoter’s Cup category with his closest rival José Rodrigues starting 12th after being knocked out in the earlier timed practice.
While Kiss started from pole, Lacko started from the fourth position. With a storming start, Lacko grabbed the lead from Kiss, Antonio Albacete, and Jochen Hahn at the end of turn one. Albacete emerged as a surprise leader from the scrap with Sascha Lenz in the SL Trucksport MAN making a remarkable leap from seventh to second. It turned out to be a very brief second for the German. The Spaniard’s lead didn’t last long as he spun and took Lenz with him at turn three. Both managed to continue, but their chances of a decent result were over. Capitalising on the situation, Kiss made progress. Lacko in second continued to push hard, and build pressure. Third placed Körber, moving up from ninth position, exerted good pressure as well. Kiss and David Vršecký ran wide exiting the final corner. Kiss re-joined in fifth and Vršecký lost further ground after a lengthy trip through the gravel. Lacko grabbed a firm lead and stayed in control for the rest of the race. Gradually extending his lead to a point where he was 12-seconds in front, the grid behind Lacko continued to re-arrange. There was plenty of action. Several drivers regained lost ground in the opening stages, chief among these, Norbi Kiss.
Kiss moved up to the second position after an entertaining scrap with Anthony Janiec’s Lion Truck MAN. Iveco lost ground with Körber slipping back and dropping from third to tenth. This was followed by Hahn suffering a similar experience. In the latter stages of the race both Ivecos were on a mission to get back into the points positions. It was the same with Antonio Albacete and David Vršecký. André Kursim put on a strong performance and stayed out of trouble to take fourth overall, his best ever result in the FIA ETRC.Vršecký managed to come back into fifth position in the second of the Buggyra Freightliners with Steffi Halm in Reinert Racing MAN, who experienced a rather quiet race, one place behind in sixth. Hahn and Körber recovered to seventh and eight position respectively. Albacete, who was dead last after the lap one incident stormed through the pack to ninth place following a late lunge on Jeremy Robineau. The final point’s position went to José Rodrigues in his Rebonconorte MAN.
Kursim takes the Promoter Cup
The Promoter’s Cup class saw a second consecutive win for André Kursim. The German youngster took control from the second lap onwards. The Tankpool24 Racing driver made further in-roads into José Rodrigues’ points advantage with a well-judged drive. Rodrigues took the runners-up position after managing to drop Jeremy Robineau after he temporarily fell behind him after a mid-race excursion. Robineau led at the end of the first lap but was quickly usurped by Kursim and Rodrigues and eventually came home third ahead of Heinz-Werner Lenz’s Mercedes-Benz. Buggyra 1969 claimed the Teams’ honours in race three as Adam Lacko and David Vršecký combined to beat the Tankpool24 Racing pairing of Norbert Kiss and Andre Kursim. The Die Bullen IVECO Magirus pairing of Jochen Hahn and Gerd Körber claimed the final rung of the podium.
Refuse trucks operate in cities and towns. Their operating cycle is typically urban, and with almost a stop at every household to collect refuse. The stop-go operating cycle of a refuse trucks leads to an amount of fuel wastage as well as increases the amount of exhaust gases the truck emits. That is not the only issue with refuse trucks. These trucks also pose a challenge to the driver with their duty cycle. The stop-go operation often results in driver fatigue, and especially in an urban environment. Making a perfect candidate for alternate fuel technologies, like buses, refuse trucks have also been a subject of research for some time now. The effect of their operating cycle on the driver is also prompting companies that build, and operate refuse trucks, to look at making it better and efficient. It does not come as a surprise therefore, that a Swedish waste management company, Renova, and Volvo Trucks, are currently testing an autonomous refuse truck with particular attention to safety. The two are researching on how automated vehicles can contribute to safer, more efficient refuse handling and create a better working environment for drivers. The automated systems being tested are in principle the same as those fitted to the autonomous Volvo truck operating in the Kristineberg Mine in northern Sweden since autumn 2016.
According to Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks, that the automated refuse truck is driven manually in a new area for the first time with an on-board system constantly monitoring and mapping the route with the help of sensors and GPS technology. “The next time the truck enters the same area, it knows exactly which route to follow and at which bins it has to stop,” he expressed. Stating the reason behind why his company embarked on this exercise, Almqvist mentioned, “Driving a heavy commercial vehicle in an urban residential area with narrow streets and vulnerable road users imposes major demands on safety, even when the vehicle’s speed doesn’t exceed a normal walking pace. The refuse truck we are now testing continuously monitors its surroundings and immediately stops if an obstacle suddenly appears on the road. The automate system, at the same time, creates better prerequisites for the driver to keep a watchful eye on everything that happens near the truck.” At the first stop with the automated system activated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and empties it exactly the way the job is done today by operating the relevant controls. When the operation is completed, the truck automatically reverses to the next bin upon receiving the driver’s command. The driver walks the very same route that the truck takes and thus always has full view of what’s happening in the direction of travel.
An odd bit is the truck reversing. It is unheard of that a refuse truck reverses as it goes about picking up refuse at every door step almost. There’s a reason why this refuse truck reverse from one bin to the other, said Hans Zachrisson, Strategic Development Manager, Renova. He stated, “By reversing the truck, the driver can constantly remain close to the compactor unit instead of having to repeatedly walk between the rear and the cab every time the truck is on the move. And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at every start and stop, there’s less risk of work related injuries such as strain on the knees and other joints.” Reversing is otherwise a fairly risky manoeuvre as the driver may find it difficult to see who or what is moving behind the vehicle, even if it is fitted with a camera. In certain areas it is not allowed to reverse a heavy commercial vehicle for safety reasons, in others it is a requirement that a co-driver must stand behind the truck to ensure that the road is clear before the vehicle reverses. In this case, the truck – Volvo FM, is designed to eliminate these issues. Sensors monitor the area all around the refuse truck, no matter the direction in which the vehicle is moving.
If a car or any other obstacle is blocking the street, the refuse truck will automatically drive around it provided there is enough space. The automated systems, according to Almqvist, optimise gear changes, steering and speed, fuel consumption, and reduces emissions. Said Almqvist, “The technical scope already exists. However, a lot of research, testing and development remains before self-driving refuse trucks can become a reality.” The current project will continue until the end of 2017. It will be followed by an extremely thorough evaluation of functionality, safety, and how well this type of a vehicle is accepted by drivers, other road users and local residents. “Vehicles with varying degrees of automation will probably be introduced earlier in other applications, where transport assignments take place within strictly confined areas such as mines and cargo terminals,” signed off Almqvist.
Actress Asha Parekh is shown behind the wheel of a pick-up truck in Tokyo in a classic Hindi movie ‘Love in Tokyo’. Released in 1966, the movie went on to be a blockbuster, and featured Joy Mukherjee and the accomplished Lalita Pawar. The story unveils such that Mukherjee is engaged to a girl Sarita (Lata Bose) chosen by his mother played by Lalita Pawar, in a situation that is not to his liking. Sarita is a minor of 17 years, and pampered. Finding himself in a spot, Mukherjee in a turn of events finds himself on the plane to Japan. Lalita Pawar is informed by her lawyer that her daughter-in-law (wife of Mukherjee’s elder brother) is critically ill in Japan, and wants to hand over her son to her husband’s family. Mukherjee’s elder brother married a Japanese girl much to the dislike of his mother.
Mukherjee bonds well with his elder brother’s son. They visit a shopping mall where he catches a glimpse of Asha Parekh on the television. He is drawn to her. As the performance comes to an end, Parekh’s uncle played by Madan puri announces her engagement with a young pilot of Indian origin, played by Pran. Parekh is not aware of the plot drawn by her uncle to inherit her father’s property with the help of Pran. Unhappy with the turn of the events that unfold with such speed, Parekh decides to flee. As would happen only in a Hindi movie, she bumps into the little fellow. Haggered by their respective uncles, Parekh and the little fellow take to liking each other. A bounty of USD 5,000 is announced for whoever finds Parekh and returns her. After spending the night in hiding, the two decide to move. In an attempt to do so, the little one accidently bumps into Mukherjee who is on the look out. Parekh gets into action. She hijacks a Toyopet pick-up truck, and the two flee as Mukherjee chases them. The driving skills of Parekh as she deftly maneouvres the Toyopet pick-up laden with hay on the roads of Tokyo deserves a mention.
Featured many years later in the movie Betaab, albeit in a battered and badly bruised form by the lead actor Sunny Deol to woo his love interest, Amrita Singh, the Toyopet pick-up truck was launched in 1954 in Japan as a competitor to Nissan Junior. Sharing the platform with Toyota Dyna, the pick-up truck was rechristened as the ‘Scout’ in 1959. Known to be produced until 1989, the pick-up truck made for a successful model run. The one that Parekh is shown to be driving in the movie remained a main stream model for many years, and gave the pick-up the identity it deserves. Looked up to as the forefather of Toyota Hilux, the Scout was powered by a 48 hp, 1.5-litre, diesel engine. It could be also had with a 2-litre Type R engine. If the twin headlights set into a large grille attract, it is the positioning of the parking lights at either corner of the bonnet that draw attention. They present a unique identity to the design. A body on frame construction, the suspension of Scout was made up of independent coil springs at front, and leaf springs at the rear. Measuring 4,286 mm to 4,690 mm mm in length and 1,690 mm in width, the Scout made for an interesting cameo in the movie. Allowing Bollywood fans to catch a glimpse of a pick-up truck in the 60s, the movie, ‘Love in Tokyo’ had a happy ending with Mukherjee and Parekh falling for each other.
Q & A
Vinod K. Sahay,
CEO – Designate,
Mahindra Trucks & Buses Limited.
Interview by: Bhushan Mhapralkar
Q. How do you plan to keep the excitement going at Mahindra Trucks and Buses?
A. The team at Mahindra Trucks and Buses Limited (MTBL) has done a good job. The expectations from the Blazo have been met. By and large, wherever the Blazo sold in BSIII version, the promises made by the company have been fulfilled. In this industry, at the end of the day, it is the product, technology and the core offerings that make a difference. Beyond a point, if the core is not delivering, there may not be much to do. A CV is not a lifestyle product. It has to be a profitable business for its buyer. With Blazo BSIV, we strongly believe that the delta, which we used to have earlier, has risen further. The migration to BSIV has brought about a generation change in CVs. It may not be the first time that a new emission norm has come into existence, BSIV emission norms have set a new paradigm nevertheless. The engine remained mechanical through BSI, BSII and BSIII migration. With BSIV migration, there’s not a single mechanical engine in use. It will be a world of electronics hereafter. With the move to BSIV, it is not just the electronic engine, but also the exhaust after treatment. There is an amount of after treatment required in EGR and SCR. It increases the back pressure. Back pressure will only increase further with the move to BSVI emission norms. A six-litre engine of an earlier era will no longer produce the same amount of power and torque. Efficiency, power delivery and torque will change. Coinciding with the implementation of GST almost, the migration to BSIV has signaled that a truck is going to be a far more efficient asset than it was earlier. If it used to travel 90,000 to one-lakh kilometers per year, it will now travel one and a half lakh kilometers. We have come to think that what was probably our weakness is now our strength. If our 7.2-litre engine makes us future-ready, we are quite excited. We are at a very good position right now, and will be taking the same engine to BSVI. Others may have to seek a new engine to meet BSVI emission norms. We are in a position to go forward in a much stronger way. After extensive trials we have come to conclude that our mileage guarantee stands, and in a bigger way than it did in the case of BSIII.
Q. What was the reason behind selecting SCR technology?
A. We decided to move ahead with SCR technology because it does not have any negative impact on the engine. EGR is good for a range of products where the power to weight ratio is high. In LCVs, where the power to weight ratio is upwards of 10, EGR is a good technology. In heavier CVs, where 49-tonne is pulled by a 230 hp engine, the power to weight ratio is just about four. Add the possibility of overloading, and EGR as a technology is just not sufficient. Upon adopting SCR technology, we have made an effort to be future-ready. We have chosen airless SCR, which is a necessity to meet BSVI emission norms. Airless SCR is costlier for the manufacturer, but is cheaper for an operator. Airless SCR consumes less AdBlue. Our truck will thus consume 10 to 15 per cent less AdBlue. Only one filter needs to be changed after every 60,000 kms, and it costs Rs.1200. The four year SCR cost for our truck will be Rs.7300. Frequency of filter change in air-assisted SCR is high. The costs involved are in the region of Rs.60,000 to Rs.70,000 over a span of four years. Our advantage in Blazo BSIV is even bigger than it was in the BSIII guise. We are stressing upon communicating the advantage a Blazo offers, and it is going to be a slow and steady process. Unlike industry leaders, we do not have the ability to put thousands of trucks in one go. For a challenger brand like us, we expect people to conduct a careful evaluation.
Q. What are your plans to fill up the gap between the LCVs and M&HCVs?
A. We have refreshed the cabin of our LCVs during the last two-to-three months. We have also extended ‘Fuel Smart’ technology to our LCV range. It has two modes unlike the three modes the system in the Blazo has. The light goods vehicle range gets ‘mileage guarantee’, which will be extended to light passenger vehicles. To address the gap between six and 25-tonne, we are working on a new platform that will spring up ICVs and MCVs. We plan to launch the next set of vehicles, especially in the nine to 16-tonne range in the next twelve months. The node of highest volumes in ICVs keeps shifting. Five years ago, it was in the 10.5-tonne range, today it is in the region of 13.5- to 14.1-tonne. We see volumes in three segments going forward. These would be tractor-trailers and heavy rigid trucks; trucks in the 13- to 16-tonne bracket, and 3.5- to 4-tonne segment. We will soon complete the missing link.
Q. What plans do you have to tap the growing bus segments?
A. We have been investing in buses, and have a range from 15-seater to 40-seater. In this financial year, Mahindra will launch the LPO range with 30-, 40- and 45-seat configuration. ICV platforms’ ability to come up with passenger vehicles will be explored in the second phase. We have introduced air suspension in our LCV range. The LPO range will complement the existing range of lighter passenger vehicles made at Zaheerabad.
Q. How would MTBL travel along the line of change in technology?
A. The challenge to move up to BSVI in two and half years has been taken. Alternate fuels, especially electricity, will call for supporting ecosystem. Our electric CVs will carry a lot of knowledge acquired by Mahindra Electric, a group entity. We will work jointly with them. We are working on bus projects. Heavy electric CVs call for huge investment. With electric propulsion concentrating around lighter, urban vehicles, we, as a group, do not see much challenge. We may not be ready to sell a vehicle in the market, technology-wise we will not be found wanting. Talking about cabin technology, the one that we offer is crash test certified. Termed the best, and the most modern, the cabin is also well equipped. It measures 2.4 m compared to the cabins others offer, which measure 2.2 m. AC is optional, and new e-commerce companies are opting for it. Acceptance among organised players is rising since an AC cabin improves asset utilisation. DigiSense is a connected vehicles initiative that provides the ability to talk to the driver, operator and the operator’s customer. A wealth of information is obtained. A customer operating oil tankers for Bharat Petroleum for instance can monitor his or her truck beyond the interest of the oil company to monitor its arrival and departure at its terminal. An electronically governed engine enables the ‘box’ to communicate with the engine ECU. CAN-data can be transferred, and used for remote diagnosis and prognosis. Data could be used to provide better service, and to carry out preventive maintenance. Adding huge value for us, and enhancing our ability to design a better truck, the dashboard of our truck could display CAN-data as well. Driving information could be divulged apart from fuel efficiency. When the driver stops, he can use the ‘box’ to find out a better route. Apart from geo-fencing, as and when the regulation demands, driver productivity management or driver utilisation could be incorporated. If a regulation to drive eight hours is implemented, the ‘box’ can be programmed to talk to the driver. This will call for the ‘box’ to be Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled. Information regarding trailer coupling and tyre pressure could be had as well. The possibilities are endless, and up to the imagination of OEM. The driver and operator should migrate to such a platform.
Q. How close are we to truly connected CVs?
A. We are not far from truly connected CVs. It is the cost that has to be justified. Regulatory push makes it easier, but the challenge lies with the operator getting the price from the consumer. What goes into a CV, someone has to pay for it. A consignor’s ability to pay for a safer truck has to be there. Considering the need for a mature ecosystem, our operating economics in BSIV is not inferior to BSIII.
Q. What growth opportunities do you see?
A. For a challenger brand like us, everything is an opportunity. We command a five per cent market share. In heavy commercial vehicles we are the number four player. We are seeing good traction in some of the segments like the 37-tonne segment, and the 49-tonne segment. In these segments our position is better than the industry average of five per cent. There are pockets where we have reached a market share of 15 to 20 per cent. The shift to BSIV has increased our competitiveness. We see a big opportunity in truck body code. Over 65 per cent of what we sell are fully-built vehicles. The sale of BSVI CVs is expected to begin from December 2019 itself. This gives rise to two issues – ROI and the ability to operate BSIV CVs. With BSVI at the doorstep, migration to larger engines will be faster. Engine back pressure will rise. We will stick to our current engine and airless SCR with some additional bits thrown in to meet BSVI emission norms. In LCVs, we will have a mix of EGR and SCR. The power to weight ratio will help to decide.
Q. As competition gets fierce, and ways of working change, what group synergies would you look at?
A. Synergies for us come out of various things. They are about technology mostly. Digisense is a result of synergy. Common-rail diesel engine is another example. There’s much synergy at the supplier end. Without synergies we would not have been as cost competitive. With the entire auto business indulging in common sourcing, the chances of dealing with the same vendors increase. Synergies at the back-end and front-end provide an advantage. Front-end synergies involve dealers. About 25 per cent of the dealers are common to our farm or auto businesses. The facilities are independent but the owner is the same. He gets the advantage of a common back-end, and we get the advantage of familiarity. In service, we are exploring synergies where smaller, lighter and heavier commercial vehicles share the same service center. It saves overheads for the dealer, and we are able to have a better reach. We have synergies with our finance arm, Mahindra Finance, which has a share of 30-35 per cent. We seek synergy with Mahindra Research Valley for development of technology.
Q. Would a new engine be developed for ICVs?
A. Some of the current engines will be upgraded. We will also make new engines out of our portfolio of engines.
Q. How do you plan to keep the suppliers and dealers motivated?
A. We believe that what applies to our employees, also applies to our partners. Satisfaction necessarily does not come from money, it comes from the level of engagement. We have scored high in the J D Power survey despite having come out of red just yet. We have scored much ahead of the Tatas and Leylands of the world. The biggest reason for this is the way we treat our channel partners; treat their problems as ours. If you speak to our channel partners, they will talk about the confidence we have given them. We make an honest attempt to solve their problems. Our partners have been with us through the worst times. Most will today indicate that the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. Most of them are raring to go. I wouldn’t say that it is a job done. The process is constant. Players like us can’t take things for granted. We can’t rest on the assumption that our dealers are making good money. Most of them are not. Most of them have just about turned profitable, or have broken even. They have some way to go to recover their past investment. We operate with a thumb rule of full honesty. We tell our partners that let us solve your problems together. We don’t commit that we can solve them 100 per cent as part of it is within our control and part is not. Some things are out of our control because of the way things are happening in the industry right now., which leaves very little retention to most of our dealers’ kitty. We are expanding our dealer network on a need basis largely. Due to our innovative approach to overcome service challenges, we have achieved good results. The service guarantee, for example, we offer on the Mumbai-Delhi corridor. No other player has been able to give such a guarantee. We are stressing on technology and low cost innovation to solve some of our problems. We do not ask dealers to invest beyond what is required. We tell them to keep room for scaling-up the operation when the need arises. In some areas, single digit expansion could happen to fill up the network gaps in this and the next fiscal. We are looking to expand the service guarantee to other Golden Quadrilateral corridors. For the other corridors, and the east-west corridor, our commitment of 48 hours remains. We have 11 parts plazas. At the end of this year, we are looking at crossing 80.
Q.What are your export plans?
A. Under the Auto and Farm sector at Mahindra, we have identified two major geographies – South Africa and South Asia. We have a group-level team looking after these. We support them. In the two geographies, distributors have been appointed. Our focus right now is on the domestic market.
Q. What is your forecast for the CV market?
A. In terms of the quarters, it is very challenging given the current situation. A report mentions that India will be the fastest growing economy till 2025. If the economy grows, commercial vehicles will also grow. There are intermediate challenges. GST is a two-way sword when it comes to commercial vehicles. It will increase the efficiency of existing fleet. It will also add to over capacity in some sectors. It will therefore take three to four months before the order is set. Operators will also evaluate. If the truck were to run 7,000 km a month, it would now run 10,000 km. The operator will evaluate fleet utilisation. He will evaluate how many new trucks are required. Most are re-calculating as the earlier thumb rules are no longer effective. There could be a momentary challenge over two-to-three months. The unfortunate bit is, it gets coupled with the lean season. There is a likelihood of short term stress. In the medium and long-term there is no need to worry. The BSVI migration will haunt the industry next.