Toyota HiAce: Epitomising luxury and comfort

Unveiled at the Auto Expo 2014, and later at the 4th Bus and Special Vehicle Show in 2015, the HiAce is aiming at those who seek to travel in luxury. 

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

 

Delhi-based Mann Tours and Travel Services Pvt. Ltd. (MTTSL) has nine Toyota HiAces in their fleet. These have been a part of MTTSL’s luxury van and coach fleet from 2012, and are aimed at those who are seeking luxury travel. Reflective of the changing market preference, the HiAces that MTTSL has in its fleet are a far cry from the original HiAce that debuted in 1967. These are fifth generation models. Available as a cab over pick-up, delivery van, as a stretched commuter vehicle, and as a camper van, the first generation HiAce was designed as a commuter vehicle capable of transporting up to eight people. The exterior dimensions and engine displacement were in compliance with Japanese Government regulations. The engine was installed underneath and between the front passengers.

Even in the current generation HiAce, the engine is installed underneath and between the front occupants. Debuting in 2005 as a wider and longer wheelbase wagon, and also in a high-roof ‘Grand Cabin’ form, the big change over the earlier generation model was the placement of the gearshift lever on the dashboard. This was done to enable easier movement. Assembled in Portugal, Phillipines, South Africa, Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Vietnam apart from Japan, the HiAce in many parts of the world is available as a mini-van, van, mini-bus, pick-up, cab and an ambulance. More than six million HiAces have been sold since its introduction in over 140 countries. In India, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) showcased a HiAce at the Auto Expo 2014. The vehicle was also displayed at the 4th Bus and Special Vehicle Show in 2015.

 

Conservative looking yet elegant

From the front, the HiAce comes across as a conservatively styled yet elegant looking van. It even looks a shade bulky with that high roof. The clear lens wrap around lamps complement the grille, and present the front a touch of elegance. If the creases break the monotony of the large front panel, the deep bumper with a wide air dam does a good job of masking the bulk. Walk over, and it is aptly clear that this is not a small van by any measure. The HiAce measures between 4,695 mm and 5,380 mm depending on the version chosen. It measures between 1695 mm and 1880mm in width, between 2245 mm and 2285 mm in height. It measures between 2570 mm and 3110 mm in wheelbase. The normal body, high roof version in question measures 4695 mm in length, 1695 mm in width and 2245 mm in height. The wheelbase is 2570 mm and the ground clearance is 195 mm. Riding on 15-inch dia. wheels and 215/75 R15 tyres, the HiAce, from the side, looks more elegant than it does from the front. The cab forward stance does add a touch of aggression. The sheer size, refusing to fade out of the memory. The rear-view mirrors mounted on the A-pillars continue to grab attention. They accentuate the looks of the van. Adding to the elegant look of the van, and keeping the sides from looking bland, a shoulder-line runs from the front door to the rear lamp, and under the door handles. The rear door (only on the left) is of the sliding variety, and allows access to the passenger compartment. It extends all the way up to touch the ‘rain gutter’. Below, it goes down to the level of the ‘running board’. Powered by an ‘easy closer’ door function, it does not take as much effort to close the large door. If the door is left partially open, the ‘easy closer’ function automatically shuts it.

The rear is made up of a large tail gate. The flat-back is not as inspiring. It instead hints at the utility status of the van, albeit in an elegant manner. Vertical tail lamps are built into the respective pillars. A ladder to the right side of the tail gate provides access to the roof.

Luxurious interior

Step inside, and the leather upholstered captain chairs attract. The cabin (passenger compartment) is spacious and roomy. Capable of seating seven people (HiAces with MTTSL that can seat 10 and 12 people), the light grey coloured trim accentuates the beige leather upholstered seats and the roof section. Large grab handles draw attention. Also does the soft lighting. It adds to the ambiance.

Of the seven luxurious seats across three rows, four are ‘powered’ captain seats. The three third row seats are ‘fixed’. The two captain chairs in the front row can swivel up to 180 degrees. Those occupying this set of chairs can thus face the rest of the occupants and not feel left out. The second row seats also swivel. Considering the plush environment and the level of comfort the HiAce’s cabin offers, it does not take long to understand why this van is a hit among corporate companies and luxury travel seeking families and friends. If the two rows of swivelling seats can turn the van’s cabin into a small meeting room, the manner in which the first row seats swivel, they make it easier for aged people to get in and get out. Head room, legroom and shoulder room is in ample supply. The seats themselves are highly supportive and comfortable. The reclining features on the four captain seats makes them supremely comfortable.

A partition between the driver’s cabin and the passenger compartment ensures that meetings can be conducted without disturbance, and in silence. The cabin is well insulated. The driver’s cabin is also well insulated. It is comfortable, and equipped with fabric seats for the driver and co-passenger. An amount of space in the driver’s cabin is taken up by the engine cover; it is mounted such that the box built on the top of it is placed between the driver and co-passenger seats. The driver can store nick-nacks in this box. The dashboard is simple and straightforward in its construction. The quality of plastics is good. The four-spoke steering wheel resembles that of the Corolla. The 2-DIN music system too. The parking brake is located besides the dash mounted gearshifter. The steering is collapsible. There are two SRS airbags and a reverse camera. It aids to reverse the ‘big’ van into the parking slot.

 

The drive

Powering the HiAce is a 145PS, 2982cc, 1KD-FTV in-line four-cylinder common-rail diesel engine with variable geometry turbocharger and an intercooler. Exerting a good pull, the engine generates a maximum torque of 300 Nm at 1200-2400 rpm. The van, weighing close to two-tonnes, feels agile. It picks up speed well. The four-speed automatic transmission does a fair job of routing power to the rear wheels. Interestingly, the van does not feel as heavy or as big to drive. Equipped with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), the commanding seating position with a good view ahead makes it easy to manoeuvre the HiAce. The controls are well placed and the rear view mirrors add to the visibility.

Speeds in excess of 100 kmph are easily achieved, and with a sense that there’s more power in reserve. On an open road the HiAce cruises at good speeds, the engine turning at a fair pace. In the city, the size of the HiAce makes it a bit of a chore. However account for the large dimensions, and the fact that the driver is sitting on the front axle, and it is easy to pilot. A quiet and vibration free cabin makes the drive comfortable. It presents a feeling of driving a car rather than a van. The power assisted steering is light. At speeds it feels a bit light, but offers a good feedback none the less. The ride over a variety of surfaces is pliant. The suspension, consisting of double wishbone and stabiliser bar at front, and leaf spring at the rear, does a good job of soaking the irregularities.

When it is time to shed the speed, the brakes exert a strong bite. Equipped with ventilated disc brakes at front and drums at the rear, the braking under a variety of situations inspires confidence. The HiAce features ABS, Emergency Stop Signal and Brake Assist (BA) and a Brake Override System (BOS). The 70-litre fuel tank presents the big van with a good travel range.

 

In India

The HiAces Mann has in their fleet are Completely Built Units (CBUs). If the industry sources are to be believed, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) is looking at CBU imports to address the growing need for niche transport applications in the form of 10-seater and 12-seater HiAce. On the radar are five star hotels, premium schools and corporate travel companies, claim sources. For the HiAces that are already running on Indian roads, TKM is known to provide the needed support. With the need for quicker turnaround and an ability to derive more gains in the wake of the considerable investment, it is Toyota’s pursuit for quality that makes the HiAce appealing. “We turned to the HiAce as it is a competent vehicle. Also, Mercedes-Benz has stopped importing the Viano van”, said Parmjeet Mann, Director, MTTSL. She did not reveal what it cost to buy a HiAce. What she mentioned instead is that the typical hire charge for the HiAce is Rs.60 per km.

Commercial vehicle growth in 2016

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Emerging out of a weak 2014, and witnessing growth in 2015, the year 2016 will bring growth to the Indian commercial vehicle sector. It will also pose challenges.

 

Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

 

Regulatory pressure exerted itself quite effectively in 2015. Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) mandate rolled out in August. More regions of the country came under the influence of BS IV emission norms from August 01, 2015. Bus Code too was implemented on August 01, 2015. Fuel costs continued to stay in the comfort zone even though there was some hike in taxes. Costs of other consumables continued to rise against the lack of a formidable rise in the freight business and the emergence of the clear trend. This continued to exert pressure on operator margins, compelling them to seek more efficient, fast and reliable commercial vehicles, which would help to up productivity and stay ahead. In the wake of the transformation that touched the Commercial Vehicle (CV) sector in 2015, the year 2016, it looks like, will witness some very interesting developments in the CV sector.

Expressed Pierre Jean Verge-Salamon, President, Volvo Group Truck Sales India, “2015 was a good year. The Heavy-Duty (HD) truck market grew at around 40 per cent in 2015 emerging out of a weak 2014. The Light-Duty (LD) truck market and some segments of the bus market also saw good growth in 2015. With the current rate of economic growth we expect the market to remain buoyant in 2016 as well.” The LD truck market drove out of red ahead of the festive season even though its growth is not as strong as one would expect. The World Bank has pegged the Indian GDP growth at close to 7.9 per cent for 2016. Mentioned Kaushik Madhavan, Director – Automotive & Transportation, Middle East, North Africa & South Asia, Frost & Sullivan, that the CV industry is expected to follow a cyclical trend, mimicking the GDP growth. The Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicle (M&HCV) segment is expected to rebound with a robust growth of 25 per cent (about 63,000 incremental units) in 2016 over 2015 according to Kaushik. The Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) segment is expected to continue to post a de-growth of about 2 per cent (8,300 units). “Overall, the Indian CV industry would post close to 9 per cent growth in terms of volume over 2015, at an estimated 670,000 units,” explained Madhavan. More specifically, RT Wasan, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, opined, “The outlook is different in different sectors, and accompanied by hope for a positive growth.”

Commercial Vehicle sector will continue to grow

Industry leaders and analysts alike seem confident of the Indian CV sector witnessing good buoyancy in 2016. If it will be broad-based and all-encompassive will need to be seen. Claimed an industry expert that growth in the Indian CV sector will not be broad based. Instead, it will be closely linked with the uptake in the overall economic activity. Abdul Majeed, Partner, Price Waterhouse, expressed that for sustained growth, it is absolutely necessary to have a robust growth in the overall economy, which in turn depends a lot more on the next level of reforms including the introduction of GST. The implementation of GST from the next fiscal looks doubtful. Even if it were a matter of implementation, the need would be for clarity on how it will pan out. Expressed SP Singh, Convenor, IFTRT, “CV sector growth in 2016 will depend on the future demand.” Drawing attention towards the fact that a good capacity has been created in the market, Singh averred, “regulatory issues are challenges that need to be tackled firmly.” Claiming that the CV population hasn’t changed, and there is no clear trend in freight that seems to emerge, Singh remarked that this is because freight is dependent on other factors of the economy. And, that the economy needs to pick up. He mentioned that fleet utilisation potential is high, and demand is visible. There’s however a lack of a strong signal. “Fleet utilisation therefore is not growing, and the gap between an operator with assured business and the one without, is growing wider. Small operators continue to fail as outsourcing of trucks is going down. Containerisation is going up, signalling a preference for fixed business. No breakthrough is in sight, and much will depend on budget allocation and the rise in purchasing power of the people,” Singh added.

Expressed a fleet operator that the next year will not be bad, it will not lead to a significant growth either. He indicated that he was looking forward to a stable working environment over rise in business. Remarked Singh, that the asset owning cost has got better and freight rates are remunerative. Stability is what is necessary, and above and over profits. He added, “SMEs provide 70 to 80 per cent cargo. It is they who are most keen to seek clarity on issues like GST. The need therefore is for transparency. Lack of transparency is affecting trading, and in turn the freight movement. There is also a need to transform from an opportunistic freight model to the one that is transparent through effective implementation of taxation activities. The need therefore is to link GST to economic growth for freight efficiency to go up.”

 

Growth will be on account of replacement demand, infra and mining

Claimed an analyst that the move up to higher tonnage commercial vehicles will continue in 2016. Replacement demand, he added, will also continue to drive growth, but with an added support coming from the emergence of activity in infrastructure and mining. Said PJ Salamon, “We are quite positive about the Government’s ambition to double the coal production by 2020. This will give good impetus to the coal mining sector. We expect good demand to come from the mining sector.” Madhavan averred, that in 2016, 85 per cent of the M&HCV segment by volume will be contributed by goods carriers and the remaining 15 per cent by passenger carriers. In the LCV segment, 94 per cent of the volume will come from goods carriers and the rest 6 per cent will come from passenger carriers. “The overall goods carrier market is expected to grow by 6 per cent (about 36,000 incremental units). The passenger carrier market is expected to grow by 37 per cent (18,500 incremental units) over 2015,” opined Madhavan.

According to Wasan, the cargo segment will be replacement driven, and on account of the pent-up demand as well. Drawing attention to factors like smart cities, taxation, emissions and safety, which would help to boost sales of passenger CVs, Wasan exclaimed, “Pick-up in mining and infrastructure activities will provide growth momentum in M&HCV construction segment.” He also drew attention to the rising inclination towards buying fully built vehicles (FBVs), following the implementation of uniform bus body norms. Rise in demand for fully built vehicles is expected to continue in 2016. Apart from motivating passengers to use public transport, the proliferation of fully built CVs is also expected to lead to a rise in showroom experience. Showroom experience will get a boost in 2016, presenting the dealers an opportunity to broaden their scope of business and earn more by offering a gamut of value added services.

 

Showroom experience will rise

Showroom experience is set to rise in tandem with the demand for modern, fully-built vehicles. Also, the need to service new generation CVs with the use of sophisticated diagnostic tools. Pointed an industry expert, that the market leader Tata Motors is ambitiously overhauling its CV dealer network. He also drew attention to the first ‘bus zone’ at Chennai, which Tata Motors launched in later 2015. More bus zones are expected to spring up in 2016, reflecting a growing attention towards buses in wake of their growth potential. Explained Madhavan, that the bus body fabrication norms, procurement by state government for inter-city and intra-city transportation, higher disposable incomes will drive demand for medium and heavy duty buses. Growth according to him is expected to be in the region of 56 per cent – to the tune of 17,000 incremental units over 2015. “Better road infrastructure will propel the demand for luxury and sleeper buses for journey distances within 700 km. As the smart cities plan unfolds, LCV passenger carriers will be in demand as feeder-lines to metro stations. Growth of about 6 per cent is expected primarily in the sub-urban and rural sectors, accounting to about 1,600 incremental units over 2015,” he said. In 2016, it would be interesting to see what the market currents are like.

 

Market currents

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) report, in the period between April and October 2015, Tata Motors was a clear market leader, selling 162,845 CVs over 164,237 numbers sold during the same period last year, commanding a market share of 43.64 per cent. Mahindra was second with a market share of 25.14 per cent having sold 93,830 CVs in April-October 2015 as compared to 89,842 units sold during the same period last year. Ashok Leyland was third with a market share of 18.11 per cent, having sold 67,591 CVs in April-October 2015 against 89,842 units sold during the corresponding period the year prior. Claimed an analyst that Tata Motors will continue to lead the CV market in 2016, followed by Ashok Leyland. The two will dominate the domestic truck scene in India with a combined market share of over 85 to 90 per cent, he added. A report by Ernst & Young, titled ‘Mega trends shaping the Indian commercial vehicle market’ has estimated that the Indian commercial vehicle market will double to 1.6 million units in the next five years thanks to the increase in infrastructure spend, rapid urbanisation and entry of major multinational players in the country. Remarked Sugato Sen, Senior Director, SIAM, “Commercial vehicles in FY16 are expected to grow at 9 to 12 per cent. The improvement in demand would majorly be supported by recovery in LCVs where the demand has languished for the last three years.” “Improvement in consumption demand and expected improvement in financing environment would support the growth for SCVs. M&HCVs and buses would continue its growth with demand supported from replacement and fleet addition,” he mentioned.

Urbanisation is expected to benefit the SCV and pick-up segment, both in the area of cargo and passenger carriers. Demand for more powerful and higher payload is already driving a transformation in this segment, pushing SCVs to grow closer to the pick-up segment. In fact, three small trucks launched in 2015 – Tata Ace Mega, Tata SuperAce Mint and Mahindra Supro, are said to come under the category of pickups rather than SCVs. They also reflect an effort to blur the boundaries between CV segments apart from a distinct demand-based shift. Expressed Wasan, “The rate of decline of Small Commercial Vehicles (SCV) and LCVs has slowed down in the last two quarters, which is a positive sign. Factors like further proliferation of hub and spoke logistics model, implementation of GST, untapped semi-urban and rural markets, improving urbanisation and rapid ecommerce growth are likely to support a steady demand for SCVs and LCVs.” Shigeru Wakabayashi, Deputy Managing Director, Isuzu Motors India, expressed, “The year 2016 will be an important year for the Indian automobile sector with new products waiting to make inroads into the promising Indian market. We are gradually witnessing a change in trends and usage patterns in the pick-up segment, thanks to the performance, versatility and practicality it offers.” He mentioned that the volumes are slowly but steadily shifting towards pick-up trucks between 2-tonne and 3.5-tonne GVW from SCVs owing to the advantages pick-ups provide, both in terms of load carrying capacity and better turnaround.

 

Growth will come from new, higher tonnage CVs.

Claiming that polarisation is visible in every CV segment, an industry expert said that there looks like a concerted effort by CV manufacturers to offer higher tonnage CVs in various categories, leading to the emergence of new categories and application areas. He pointed at the launch of three Eicher reefer trucks based on their new Pro series in an effort to strengthen their reach in the reefer truck market. The demand for new, higher tonnage CVs is also driving technology and innovation in the CV sector. An expert cited the example of the JBM city bus, Ashok Leyland Janbus and BharatBenz 3143CM. The Janbus costs almost half of what a Volvo city bus costs, he claimed. The BharatBenz 3143CM will replace the Mercedes-Benz Actros in India, and costs almost half of what it took to buy the Actros, he added. Interestingly, both the CVs, the Janbus and the 3143CM are thoroughly modern and are supported by a good deal of technology and innovation. Ironically, they are also backed by high level of localisation, which also reflects upon the abilities of the CV component suppliers.

 

Demand for lower operating costs and lower acquisition costs

Expected to grow at a CAGR of 5 per cent or more during 2015-2020, the CV industry in India is expected to be cost conscious. This would continue to create a need for frugal engineering, albeit with a shift towards modern, world-class CVs. They would have to stay true to the fact that the average cost of a CV in India is lower than that of a CV in an advanced market. Demand for lower operating costs and lower acquisition costs will continue in 2016. What will be interesting under the given circumstances will be the growth of alternate fuel CVs. Opined Madhavan, “Of hybrid vehicles especially in the passenger carrier space, established domestic players foraying into the premium and super-premium segments that were earlier the forte of European brands, global platforms being introduced at optimum cost versus product value offered are some of the disruptive changes, which will cause many more product options to be presented to the Indian consumer.” He pointed at the challenges OEMs will face whike adapting to faster product development lifecycles, investments in research and development, investments in manufacturing to maximise global footprint, explore alternate revenue streams by foraying into telematics, infotainment systems, acquiring smaller supplier units in allied fields, and to protect operating margins and seek insulation against the cyclical nature of the Indian CV Industry.

 

Challenges

The biggest challenge for the CV industry in 2016 will be to find new avenues of growth. For CV OEMs, the challenge would be to retain domestic growth and market share, and continue to grab a greater pie of the export markets. Expressed PJ Salamon, “Policy changes and new policy implementation from the Government affecting the economy are important and have implications on the CV industry. While there are positive signs on the policy front by the government, any delays in implementation of GST for example, may have an impact on the CV industry. There is also the need to get further details on the implementation of accelerated emission norms as announced by the Government. We will have to gear up to meet those deadlines.” “On the regulatory aspect, the immediate respite would be the introduction of GST bill. It would help the CV industry significantly by making it more efficient in terms of operating cost and turnaround. Logistics companies will see a major change in transportation of goods and location of warehouses enabling end consumers to have efficient access to goods. On the other hand, the market is changing rapidly and expectation levels of the general public are increasing manifold,” remarked Wakabayashi. He added, “Regulations have to be specially formulated to benefit every segment of the transport industry in order to achieve greater operational efficiency. For instance, issuance of driver license has to be streamlined across various parameters and adherence to certain regulatory norms will ensure better competency levels of drivers across the industry. By doing this, the country can reduce life loss and material damage caused due to improper driving habits.”

A step in the direction of elevating safety has been taken by the Government through the implementation of ABS and Bus Code. Yet another development is the training for M&HCV drivers to deliver medical first aid at an accident spot before professional medical aid arrives. The use of telematics in the CV industry is going up. It may, going forward, have an effect on the insurance costs. As far as any disruptive changes are concerned, Kaushik is of the opinion that any hiccups in the of GST will shift any perceived impetus to the logistics sector to the later half of 2016. “Improvement in infrastructure will aid in faster turnaround time of vehicles, offset by the increased flow of goods across the country. Freight rates are not expected to change much along the dedicated freight corridors. However, with a continued emphasis on de-bottlenecking of mining sector and infrastructure projects, riding on the effective regulations and incentives floated by the Central Government like increasing FDI caps in the infrastructure sector, fast-tracking inter-ministerial clearances, the off-highway vehicles (Construction, Earth moving & Mining Equipment) segment is expected to moderately grow to about 50,000 units in 2016 as against 45,000 units in 2015,” he averred. Growth, it is certain, will find a way of creeping in.

Volvo dump trucks for higher productivity, more gains

Volvo FMX 520 26.1Cu copy

Two new 10×4 dump trucks from Volvo on the FMX platform reflect technology and innovation for higher productivity and more gains.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Volvo Trucks entered the Indian market in 1996. It zeroed in on a site on the outskirts of Bangalore to build modern trucks. Two decades later almost, it has launched two dump trucks that threaten to blur the boundary between a 100-tonne dump truck and a 31-tonne premium heavy duty tipper. Addressing the demand for higher productivity and more gains, these dump trucks are based on the tried and tested FMX premium heavy duty tipper platform. According to a Volvo Trucks India official, they were developed to address a need for an efficient machine that was not as big or as demanding as a dump truck, nor was it as small or less accommodating as a heavy duty tipper. Born out of the Volvo’s ability and experience, on a rigid tipper chassis with five axles and a payload capacity of 60-tonne, the dump trucks are called FMX 520 and FMX 480 respectively.

Big and burly

The FMX 520 and FMX 480 are powered by a 520 hp, 13-litre six-cylinder Volvo D13 engine mated to a 14-speed fully synchronised splitter-range manual transmission with an oil cooler. This engine also powers the Volvo FH 520 puller, and puts out a torque of 2400 Nm @ 1050-1400 rpm. The 10×4 configuration means that out of the five axles, two axles are driven. The first two and the fifth axle are steerable on the FMX 520. On the FMX 480, the first three axles are steerable. Measuring 10,105 mm in length and 4,130 mm in height, the two heavy duty front steerable axles (three on FMX 480) help with not just high ground clearance but a high load carrying capability with their I-beam design. The steerable fifth axle on the FMX 520 is also referred to as a pusher axle with electronically programmable pneumatic suspension which ensures right load distribution across the vehicle under the given gross weight. Additional protective cover on the air suspension bellows make them more reliable to use in the mining conditions. A straight I-beam design, the pusher axle is steered through electronic actuation and hydraulic assistance. The rear tandem drive axle ensures optimum traction and pulling ability. The reduction at the hubs takes place via four planetary gears, and results in an uniform load distribution.

Made for a hard life in mines

The chassis of FMX 520 and FMX 480 is made up of a robust C-channel section side members made of high strength steel. There’s full length inner reinforcement, the thickness of which is 5 mm. The front section of the chassis is bent outwards to accommodate the cab and engine, and has the same thickness of 8 mm in the web and the flanges. The front closing member with a central heavy duty towing device can sustain a lateral pull or push of up to 32-tonnes. The cab, engine, transmission and chassis cross member provide extra ruggedness to the chassis for tough off-road applications.

The superstructure on the 10×4 FMX 520 measures 26.1 cu. m., and that of the 10×4 FMX 480 measures 24 cu. m. Claimed to be capable of enhancing the productivity in line with the increasing demands of coal production, the FMX 520 offers 33 per cent higher capacity compared to the 8×4 solutions available in the market. The FMX 480 offers 28 per cent higher capacity. Developed with an eye on the government’s plans to double the coal production to one-billion tonnes by 2020, unique about both the dump trucks is the cab mounting and the engine mounting. The four-point engine mounting is optimised to reduce vibrations and improve road handling. Neither of the dump trucks are expected to ply on the road; they do not conform to the 49-tonne ceiling on trucks set by the Indian government, limiting their use in mines only. The four-point cab mounting includes the use of coil springs and shock absorbers.

Also unique about the suspension is the design of the front axle. The leaves lie flush with the each other only in the middle and at the ends. These ensure that the friction between leaves is less, providing a smooth and comfortable ride. The springs leaves are made from special steel. Their dimensions ensure that the load is evenly distributed over each cross section of the leaf. Riding on 12-24 cross ply mining tyres, the FMX dump trucks, according to Pierre Jean Verge Salamon, President, Volvo Group Trucks India, are a result of significant investments in bringing in new products keeping in mind the growth in coal mining. Vinod Aggarwal, CEO, VE Commercial Vehicles, said, “We believe in creating and delivering value to our customers with our comprehensive offering to help them improve upon their productivity and profitability. The comprehensive offering also includes Volvo’s aftermarket on-site support with more than 130 touch points. Aggarwal drew attention to Volvo Financial Services, which aims to meet the customer financing requirements.

While the tipping gear on the FMX 520 is from Mithra Kyokuto, the one found on the FMX 480 is from Hyva. It is a 5-stage hydraulic tipping cylinder provided with knock off valve limiting the tipping angle to 45 degrees. This is claimed to create less hydraulic pressure in the system. Aimed at overburden application, the two FMX dump trucks are equipped with a Volvo patented Volvo Engine Compression brakes (VEB+) for safer driving. Safer driving is also taken care of with a cabin that is spacious and comfortable for putting in long working hours. The availability to Volvo’s unique Dynafleet telematics system adds to safety. It also adds to efficiency and security by enabling the driver to improve upon his fuel saving skills and for the fleet company to manage the fleet in an efficient and cost effective manner.

Indian CVs tread foreign shores

FUSO FJ MEDIUM HEAVY CONCRETE MIXER FOR THAILAND copy VOLVO B7R Coach - 4 copyfoto2 copy

Treading foreign shores, Indian commercial vehicles are eyeing advanced markets like Europe.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

As the year draws to and end, exports are one of the positives the CV industry in India will remember for long. Low fuel prices not succeeding to uplift some of the CV segments in the domestic market, it is the exports that are a definite positive that the Indian commercial vehicle industry will look at with pride. Thrust on exports is growing. It is helping the Indian commercial vehicle manufacturers as well as the suppliers to gain valuable global insight in the process. Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director, Commercial Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors is known to have expressed that his company has been exporting for 20 years. He is also known to have said that they are ensuring every new CV they develop will conform to global standards, making it a potential candidate for exports. Apart from the Prime and Ultra, Tata Motors is banking on the Xenon and Ace to drive into new export markets. The CV manufacturer is making necessary changes and employing new technology to ensure that these vehicle address the needs of the local markets there. Rising beyond the SAARC region, Tata Motors is concentrating on Far East Asian markets like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. It is also concentrating on Australia and Africa, and has flagged off an assembly operation in Tunisia.

Right tech for the right market

CV exports, in the case of Tata Motors, is set to make the SuperAce Mint a familiar sight in the Thai market, which is also Asia’s largest pick-up truck market. Tata Motors already supplies the Xenon to this market. Australia, at the other end, is turning out to be a lead market for Tata Motors from the technology stand point. The OEM is looking at offering a pick-up truck with an automatic transmission there. Keeping away from Europe, which according to Pisharody, is an expensive proposition, Tata Motors is expecting an export growth of 30 per cent year-on-year.

Applying a good deal of export thrust, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), under the aegis of Daimler Trucks Asia, is banking on the world-class trucks and bus (chassis) produced at Chennai. Working closely with Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), Japan, the OEM is exporting trucks to 14 markets spread across the Far East Asia and Africa. DICV trucks recently entered the South African market. From early this year, the bus chassis built at Oragadam in a dedicated plant begun exports to markets like Egypt where MCV builds the bodies and offers them as Mercedes-Benz. According to Erich Nesselhauf, Managing Director and CEO, DICV, exports of CVs built at Oragadam are part of DICV’s global growth strategy. To reach out to LHD markets, DICV ensured that its CVs could be suitably modified. Demonstrating interesting manufacturing flexibility, DICV began exporting its bus chassis well before it launched them locally, in the Indian market.

Eyeing advanced markets with world-class CVs

Despite being an expensive proposition, some Indian CV manufacturers are leveraging their European roots to export CVs to Europe. Volvo Buses India, for example, announced the export of its inter-city, twin-axle buses to Europe recently. Employing an imported Euro 6 powertrain, the buses are built on the same conveyor as the Indian buses. Conforming to the European standards and specifications, they are aimed at inter-city coach segment that typically does between 100 and 300 km. The Indian bus will thus compete against buses made by Diamler, Iveco and many European home grown brands. Claim industry sources, that one Volvo B8R single-axle chassis based bus was exported to Belgium in July 2015 from the Ennore port. Also, two B9R 9400 multi-axle buses are known to have been exported to South Africa during the same month; in March 2015 two more buses are claimed to have been exported to the same destination. In August 2015 seven B9Rs are claimed to have been exported to South Africa; one in September and two in October. Another Volvo Group company, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV), is exporting its CVs to 25 countries. In this regards, Vinod Aggarwal, Chief Executive Officer, VECV, is known to have expressed that they are adapting the Pro series products according to specific country requirements. Aggarwal is also known to have mentioned that in South East Asian countries, the need is for better technology laden products that could compete with the Japanese products. VECV is thus adapting its products to address the specific needs and aspirations of those target markets.

A source close to Ashok Leyland revealed that the company is bullish about SAARC markets barring Pakistan. India’s largest bus manufacturer, Ashok Leyland has been catering to the Sri Lankan market through its local subsidiary Lanka Ashok Leyland for a long time. The company is known to have found a local partner in Nigeria to help with the assembly operations for buses. A similar arrangement is underway for the east African region. The operation capacities are expected to range between 2000 and 4000 units per annum. Ashok Leyland is also claimed to be chalking out plans to invade the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Latin American markets. Holding a 75.1 per cent stake in Optare plc., UK, Ashok Leyland has invested in a facility at Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, with a capacity to build 2,000 vehicles. If the Optare connection and Ras Al Khaimah facility reflect on Ashok Leyland’s exports aspirations, the company has won a USD 82 million (approximately Rs.521 crore) contract from Senegal to supply 475 buses as part of building Senegal’s comprehensive and integrated transportation system.

Lack of local prowess

As Indian CV manufacturers exert an export thrust, an interesting environment that they find themselves in is to compete with players that are of foreign origin; are from advanced markets of Europe, Japan, etc. A local player is often non existent. Pisharody is known to have commented on this, that there are no local commercial vehicles companies in many export markets, leaving them to compete with European manufacturers and those that are advanced market based. In such a situation, Indian companies seem to enjoy the price advantage with the support of products that are comparable or even superior in value terms. If companies like Nextmotive, which manufactures SCVs, are finding it advantageous to export to SAARC and African markets, it may be safe to assume that an Indian CV is well received, and has managed to make a good impression. The global markets, it said, have warmed up to Indian commercial vehicles.

The figures

What better way than to look at figures to understand the export drive of Indian CV OEMs. In the period between January 2015 and October 2015, 80,823 commercial vehicles were exported according to the SIAM data available. This marked a 13.4 per cent rise over the 71,303 numbers of commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding period last year. A closer look at the CV export data also reveals that a better gain was achieved beginning March 2015. September 2015 saw a dip with CV exports amounting to 7,672 units, a decline of (-) 5.95 per cent when compared to the sale of 8,157 units sold in September 2014. In October 2015, 8,168 units were exported marking a rise of close to 9 per cent when compared to the sale of 7,494 units in October 2014.

The march continues

Indian commercial vehicles are making in roads into new markets across the world. Their ability to match the specifications of competing products from manufacturers based in advanced markets is presenting them with a big price advantage. Indian commercial vehicles are turning out to be less costlier than those from the advanced market players by up to 35 per cent, claim some industry experts. The fact that some of the export markets are far behind in emission compliance, is actually leading to an amount of complexity at the Indian commercial vehicle manufacturer’s end. The quest for providing world-class commercial vehicles is not lost. It is in fact gaining momentum, albeit with an expectation that the conditions in the domestic market continues to improve. Exports are supportive no doubt, they are however not yet enough to offset the domestic slow down. The potential for exports therefore is immense.

EXCON 2015 signals the return of a positive sentiment

Volvo Dump Truck copy Torro 31 tipper from Mahindra copy The strong arm of technology copy SSAB body for Scania P410 copy Schwing stetter copy Sany copy Pro 8031 from Volvo Eicher copy Mahindra 605Di Engine copy M2M_4941 copy M2M_4925 copy JCB machines copy JCB Engine copy IMG_20151126_104117610 copy IMG_20151125_163349465 copy Bridgestone copy BKT copy

 

It was the return of a positive sentiment that made EXCON 2015 exciting as well as successful. It is claimed to be the biggest exhibition of construction equipment in South-East Asia.

Story & photos by : Bhushan Mhapralkar

Heavy rains until the day before EXCON 2015 would commence at the Bangalore International Exhibition Grounds had the organisers and participants worried. The rains threatened to jeopardise the preparations, and called for valiant efforts to stabilise the ground for display of heavy earth moving and construction equipment in the open area. Attracting over 800 exhibitors, of which 270 were from overseas, the five-day fair opened its doors with the skies a shade of deep blue on November 25, 2015. The mushy soil patches underneath the carpet at some places in the open display area were the only telltale reminders of what it was like the day before. Claimed to be the biggest exhibition of construction equipment in South-East Asia, the eigth edition was spread across 2,20,000 sq. m. and witnessed over 200 product launches. Attracting over 35000 business visitors from across the globe, the fair, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), had country pavilions from Germany, Italy, China, Korea, Turkey and United Kingdom. Attracting participation from 22 countries, EXCON 2015 was arranged in two parts almost, consisting of an open ground display area and a closed display area spread across four halls.

If the tower cranes, mobile cranes, backhoes, excavators, tippers and concrete mixers found their way to the open display area, the closed display area saw the presence of components and aggregate makers like BKT tyres, JCB Engines, Allison Transmissions, Trelleborg, ITR and many more, showcasing India’s potential as a preferred outsourcing destination for construction equipment manufacturing. Pointing at India’s rising prominence as a global hub for construction equipment manufacturing, EXCON 2015 saw the participation of almost all the leading players in the construction equipment industry.

Targetting the construction of 100 km of roads everyday

Reflecting the return of a positive sentiment on the back of the beginning of activity in mining and infrastructure, chief guest and minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, in his inaugural speech mentioned that infrastructure development is highly essential for the progress of the country and the need of the hour was quality construction, good equipment and a good approach. He stressed upon the use of bio-diesel or ethanol in construction machinery to reduce pollution and be in sync with the government’s vision of a clean India that is free from pollution. Touching upon the need to create skilled manpower, Gadkari mentioned that the atmosphere for road development is good. He said that the government was planning to increase the national highway road length from the current 96,000 km to 1,50,000 km. Revealing that the government was also planning an express highway between Delhi and Srinagar, which will reduce travel time to six hours, and an express highway between Mumbai and Nagpur, Gadkari spoke of a target to build 100 km of roads per day. He also spoke about the plan to convert 111 rivers into inland waterways, and that his ministry is exploring the usage of waste materials such as oil sludge in the construction of roads. About 1200 centres for roadside amenities such as restaurants, rest houses etc. and 200 truck driver clubs have also been planned.

Sumit Mazumder, President, CII, mentioned that the industrial growth is on a steady upward trajectory led by higher growth in the manufacturing sector. Vipin Sondhi, Chairman, EXCON 2015 and MD & CEO of JCB India, expressed that the (construction equipment) industry witnessed difficult 36 months. “There has been some stability right now,” he added. Anand Sundaresan, President, ICEMA, and Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Schwing Stetter India, complemented the Indian government on the significant growth witnessed in the road sector. The construction industry went through a decline however, he remarked. Despite the difficult past, it was the beginning of mining and infrastructure activities that saw the stakeholders of the industry point at a brighter future; stress on the emergence of a positive sentiment. Some also pointed at the influx of technology in the form of new, efficient and highly productive machines.

Volvo FMX dump truck

The highlight of EXCON 2015 was perhaps the launch of the Volvo dump truck in two versions, the FMX 480 and the FMX 520. Aimed at mining application strictly, and to address the gap between the big dump trucks and the heavy duty tippers, these dump trucks are equipped with a 24 cu. m. and a 26 cu. m. rock body. Structured over five axles (10×4), the trucks are powered by a 13-litre Euro 3 engine that does 480 hp and 520 hp. Transmission is a 14-speed manual unit. While, the third axle on the FMX 480 is steerable, on the FMX 520, the fifth axle is steerable. Speaking on the occassion, Pierre Jean Verge Salamon, President, Volvo Group Trucks India, said that he is very positive about the Indian growth story. Expressing his optimism about the government’s plans to double the coal production to one billion tonnes by 2020, Salamon mentioned that the next five years will open up several new opportunities in coal mining, redefining productivity and efficiency demands. Speaking to CV, a company official also mentioned that his company was evaluating the prospect of road trains at coal mining sites. Trials were underway, he claimed. An official announcement will be made when the time is right, he added.

SSAB body for Scania P410

Anders Grundstormer, Managing Director, Scania CV India, also announced that they were looking at road trains to take out coal from the pits. Expressing that the market looks promising, Grundstormer said, “The mining market looks promising, and that of the coal especially, in terms of input of coal and manufacture of coal. Outbound capacity of mines will double; currently it is 550 million tonnes, he added. Grundstormer averred, “We expect to take 35 per cent of the market share of the premium segment. We will focus on outbound; we will look at concepts of road trains that we have in Indonesia and Austalia. Coal import is increasing and will continue to grow before the India made coal levels out the import.” he exclaimed. An important announcement at EXCON was the launch of P410 premium heavy duty tipper with a SSAB body. According to Grundstormer, the SSAB body is lighter yet stronger, and offers higher productivity with an ability to accommodate one more bucket full of overburden.

Pro 8031 from Volvo Eicher

Volvo Eicher displayed the Pro 8031T (8×4) heavy duty 31-tonne tipper and Pro 8031XM 330 hp (8×4) tipper with rock body and box body options for mining apart from the Pro 6025T 220 hp (6×4) box body. An RMC with 210 hp was also displayed. The portfolio was a reflection of the fact that Volvo Eicher is now fully equipped to address mining and construction segments. Speaking on the sidelines of the launch, Vinod Aggarwal, CEO, VE Commercial Vehicles said, that the worst recession for the commercial vehicle industry is behind us. More growth is expected to come from mining and construction. He drew attention to the fact, that the coal mining industry is showing handsome growth with significant focus of the government to increase domestic production of coal. “A number of infrastructure projects are under implementation and the construction segment too is likely to show good growth in the next two to three years.” he added.

Four new Tata construction trucks

Tata Motors unveiled four new products, Prima 3138.K32 CuM Coal tipper, Prima LX 2523.K RePTO, Prima LX 3128.K 19 CuM scoop HRT and TataSAK 1613. If the 5.8-litre 130 hp 1613 is based on the popular semi forward control platform with a four-wheel drive ability for off-road mineral movement, the Prima LX 3128.K 19 CuM Scoop HRT is equipped with a hub reduction tandem rear axle. It is powered by a Cummins ISBe 6.7-litre 266 hp engine mated to a 9-speed gearbox. Speaking on the sidelines of the launch, Rajesh Kaul, Business Head – Intermediate, Medium & Heavy Trucks, Tata Motors, opined that the Prima LX 3128.K 19 CuM Scoop HRT makes an ideal vehicle for shallow and light mining application. He mentioned that the the four new construction trucks have been engineered on extensice customer feedback. “They have been built with world-class manufacturing standards, and are designed to offer maximum vehicle uptime and lowest TCO,” he added. Pointing at the Prima LX 2523.K RePTO, Kaul described it as a high powered concrete mixer with rear engine power take-off. “This one does not have a slave engine to power the concrete mixer,” he said. Power is drawn from the 230 hp, 6.7-litre engine mated to a 9-speed gearbox. The flagship was the Prima 3138.K 32 CuM box coal tipper. Powered by a 370 hp, 8.8-litre Cummins ISLe engine, and mated to a Eaton 9-speed gearbox, this one’s a powerful truck for heavy duty coal mining application. The coal body measures 32 cu. m.

Torro 31 tipper from Mahindra

The highlight of the Mahindra Trucks and Bus division display was the new Torro 31 8×4 tipper. Ideal for on road transportation of coal, iron ore and crushed stones, this truck is powered by a BS III compliant, 170 hp engine mated to a 9-speed gearbox. With the tipping mechanism from Hyva, the Torro 31, according to Nalin Mehta, CEO and Managing Director, adds to the company’s existing range of tippers, and would present the ability to carry more load and enjoy optimum mileage for superior productivity. Mehta also drew attention to the 6-7 per cent market share his company has gathered in the six to eight months. Also on display at the venue was the 274 hp Torro 25 tipper; a Truxo 25 transit mixer (6 cu. m. and 7 cu. m.) with a spacious and ergonomically designed cabin; a 58.5 kW Loadking Zoom 4×2 light duty tipper with a 5950 kg GVW, and a range of backhoes the company makes at its Chakan plant.

Engine business

Volvo Penta displayed CEV Bharat Stage III emission compliant D5 and D8 engines. These make up the company’s new medium duty engine range, and could replace the 6- or 7-litre six-cylinder engines. The base engines are made at Pithampur according to Jonas Nilsson, Head of Volvo Penta in India. Looking at intensifying its activities, Volvo Penta is also looking forward to offer its heavy duty range, which consists of the D11, D13 and D16 engines. Explaining that the D5 and D8 off-road engines share the same common electronics platform as their D11, D13, and D16 counterparts, which allows them to communicate using the same protocol, regardless of emissions level — simplifying design work for OEMs, Nilsson expressed that the engines’ four- and six-cylinder design and common design footprint make the design process easier for several emissions stages. Capable of complying with the most stringent emission norms, the engines are primarily aimed at construction equipment, port-based material handling equipment, raw material exploration, silver extraction, etc. Volvo Penta engines are powering the Sandvik loaders and haulers according to Nilsson. Pointing at sharing developmental resources, Nilsson exclaimed that the nature of application of engines will be to operate concrete pumps, stone crushers, mixers, mobile cranes, etc. According to Nilsson, Volvo Penta is also working with Putzmeister on the concrete pump; with TIL for mobile cranes, and with Cargotec for material handling equipment. Also supporting special application commercial vehicles, Volvo Penta is in discussion with OEMs in India too. Bullish about growth in all the sectors the company operates in, engines produced by it are also exported. Also exported is the equipment powered by Volvo Penta engines.

Greaves Cotton unveiled a 105 hp next generation automotive diesel engine. It is a three-cylinder, 1.5-litre engine with common-rail fuel injection. Likely to be offered in BS 4 guise, the engine, with some minor changes can be adapted for Euro 5 emission compliance. Producing a maximum torque of 220 Nm @ 1600-2000 rpm, the engine weighs 150 kgs (dry). According to Greaves Cotton sources, this engine could soon find its way into an SCV.

Mahindra displayed the 605DI engine in a naturally aspirated form. This engine is BS III CEV compliant and produces 60 hp. Displacing 3532 cc, it delivers a torque of 214 Nm between 1000 rpm and 1200 rpm. Resembling closely with the engines that power the Mahindra backhoes, the core architecture of this engine is claimed to be common to the Mahindra tractor (new generation) engines.

JCB displayed two engines at its stall in Hall 1. One that is made in India, and one that JCB is looking at offering to other off-highway OEMs in India. Both are four-cylinder engines and share the core architecture. The one that is made in India is BS III compliant, 16-valve unit that generates between 76 hp and 150 hp. Available in naturally aspirated, turbocharged and common-rail fuel injection guise with a high pressure rotary pump, the engine is based on the JCB Dieselmax motor. The block, bedplate design and crankshaft dimensions are similar to the Dieselmax, and the cylinder block has been designed for heavy duty off-highway application; the pistons are made of aluminum alloy, and the fuel injectors are centrally located for even burning of fuel. The engine that JCB is looking to offer in India confirms to Tier 4 final stage emission norms according to a JCB official, reflecting upon JCB’s decision to make its own engines. According to the official, the decision to make own engines was taken so that they could get the very best. An engine that was best suited for the job; that was significantly fuel efficient and productive than the engines sourced earlier. For the new engine, the company is hoping to find takers soon; for applications like harvesters, agri equipment, etc. Said Vipin Sondhi, that JCB exports engines to 60 countries, up from the earlier six. Describing India as a competitive manufacturing base, he explained that the company is using its international marketing network to market these engines. Claimed a JCB official that the Indian made engine is already finding application with a Delhi-based road sweeper machine manufacturer. Not stopping at the four-cylinder engine, JCB is also looking at offering six-cylinder engines of up to 284 hp. These, according to the official, are made on a flexible line that can be set up anywhere with little changes.

JCB machines

JCB showcased five new products and two new verticals. According to Vipin Sondhi, the five new products are in the existing range, and include the ‘ecoXcellence’ range of backhoe loaders, skid steer, master loader, 220LC Xtra tracked excavator and Loadall. The two new verticals include the skid steer loader and the telehandler. Sondhi also stressed upon the Livelink telematics solutions. He said that 10,000 machine until July 2015 have been delivered with Livelink, which enables the owner to retain full control of his machine. Explaining that health alerts are delivered in the form of an SMS, Sondhi remarked that JCB could take a pre-emptive action if a certain machine was found to be facing a problem, or is likely to face an issue. He added that JCB has introduced a new Livelink fitment package for those who would want to fit it on their machines. Mentioning that the sector is currently at Bharat Stage III level of compliance, Sondhi opined that the reduction in the use of diesel for the same amount of productivity points at sustainability. “When we launched 3DX two years ago it was saving Rs 2 lakh per year, now it saves another 10 per cent,” expressed Sondhi. Expressing that GST will make India a unified market and bring about a clarity in taxation, Sondhi drew attention to the department of industrial policy announcing an FDI relaxation in 15 sectors including the construction sector. Referring to the construction sector as the one which drives ‘Make in India’ Sondhi remarked that they were creating entrepreneurs by helping operators to turn into owners of construction equipment. With the biggest display area of all the exhibitiors, at 4500 sq m, JCB construction equipment display reflected upon the fact that the machines have been designed for Indian conditions. There are about 400 design engineers the company has employed at its

Pune site.

Ten new products from Sany

Sany premiered 10 new products at the fair. These includes a two and three-tonne mini excavator called SY20 & SY35; 75-tonne flagship excavator called SY750; SPC400 40-tonne truck crane; STC600S 60-tonne truck crane; SCC1500E 150-tonne crawler crane; SAG120-3 120 hp small capacity motor grader; SAG160-5 160 hp motor grader; SBP60F 60 cu. m. per hour batching plant, and STM6 transit mixer.

Putting up a significant display at the fair, Schwing Stetter India displayed 16 new products. These included a M30Z batching plant, a SLM 2200 self loading mixer, RVH 18 circular distributor, LW 300 FN wheel loader of 3-tonne capacity, ZL50GN wheel loader of 5-tonne capacity and a GR 150 motorgrader. Drawing attention to Gadkari mentioning a target of 100 km road construction in his inaugural speech, V. G. Sakthikumar, Managing Director, Schwing Stetter Sales & Services, said that it will open a big market requirement for a company like theirs. Also, the taking off of the nuclear projects and other projects, he added. “Activity is happening and it is a matter of time when it gets moving on the ground,” stated Sakthikumar. He also opined, “Money is not a problem and there are enough projects, which will open a big floodgate for construction equipment. I believe that growth will come in by the middle of next year.” Pointing at companies taking advance action given the shortening window span, Sakthikumar mentioned that their strategy to launch products even when the market was down was to avoid delay when the window opened. “It also helped us to build confidence in the minds of our customers,” he said. Stressing on long term commitment, he explained that they are keen to address the needs of their customers above all, and with high quality products and service support. Eyeing an opportunity in view of the smart cities programme, Schwing Stetter recently launched a sludge pump. Close to an year ago, it announced an entry into tower cranes.

Volvo CE displays the EC750D excavator

Highlighting Volvo CE’s engineering prowess was the 75-tonne EC750D excavator. One of the biggest machines at the fair, the heavy weight 508 hp EC750D (powered by Volvo D16 Tier 3 engine) is set to address the strong demand for larger equipment to meet meet growing production targets. The EC750D, said Dimitrov Krishnan, Vice President, Volvo CE India, is well placed to work in tandem with the new FMX dump trucks that have been launched by Volvo Trucks, and is aimed at mining applications. More specifically in line with the government targeting annual coal production of one-billion tonnes by 2020, he added. He expressed further, that pressure is building on mining operators to improve both their productivity and output. Hinting at a synergy between the Volvo Group companies, Dimitrov said, “The volume of excavation is very high in a coal mine.” Volvo CE has already sold the first six EC750D machines in India to BGR Mining and Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, one of the largest private mining contractors in India. Apart from excavators, Volvo CE will be focusing on excavators for land clearing, compactors, and pavers.

Dump truck tyre from BKT

At Excon 2015, BKT launched a 100-tonne dump truck tyre of all-steel radial construction. Said Ashok P. Chhajer, General Manager – OE Sales, Balkrishna Industries Ltd., that they are highly confident of this tyre. It will lead to a lot of foreign exchange saving since it is made in India, he added. Claiming that all the steel radial dump truck tyres are currently imported, Chhajer mentioned that this is the largest all-steel radial tyre produced in the country till date. The dump truck tyre is made at BKT’s new plant at Bhuj in Gujarat. BKT has invested in the latest technology and equipment at the Bhuj plant, and with the view that this plant will turn out a majority of radial tyres unlike the Aurangabad plant, which produces a good deal of bias-ply tyres. Almost 90 per cent of what the company produces in India is exported. Starting with the manufacture of two wheeler tyres for Bajaj Auto by setting up a plant at Walunj on the outskirts of Aurangabad, BKT specialises in the manufacture of off-highway equipment tyres. It was some fifteen years ago that the company exited the truck and bus tyre market. Concentrating solely on off-highway segment tyres, the nearest that the company produces to a truck tyre is the 10.00 R20 off-highway tipper tyre. According to Chhajer it costs more than a similar tyre from another manufacturer, and will offer far superior performance under harsh off-highway mining operating conditions. Having got this far without collaborating with any tyre manufacturer, BKT will be selling the new dump tyre across the globe. The company will target OE as well as aftermarket with this tyre. According to Chhajer, BEML has taken a keen interest in this tyre. He credits the development of tyres including this one to a team of 50 R&D engineers who introduce 150 to 160 new tyre sizes ever year. Other than BKT, Bridgestone put up a display of off-highway tyres at its booth in Hall 3.

The strong arm of technology

Every machine, every aggregate and every part that was displayed at EXCON 2015 spoke of technology. Better yet, technology spoke up in no uncertain terms. Right from a dandy looking hydraulic cylinder, boom section, body component, tyre, bucket, engine to the highly complicated Allison 4000 series transmission on display in Hall 2. Indicating a rising role of technology to address the changing needs of the customers, which are often contradicting, the presence of heavy weight machines like the Volvo EC750D excavator signalled a distinct shift. A shift to higher productivity machines that are also quite efficient. The rising demand for telematics solutions pointed at the growing need for security. It also hinted at the need for a skilled manpower capable of understanding the efficiency and technology at work. A work force that is able to get the most out of the machines.

The return of positive sentiment was the highlight of EXCON 2015. Generating positive energy and enthusiasm, EXCON 2015 would act as a catalyst for further growth.

Indian CVs tread foreign shores

Article by: ASHISH BHATIA
Treading foreign shores, Indian commercial vehicles are eyeing advanced markets like Europe.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

As the year draws to and end, exports are one of the positives the CV industry in India will remember for long. Low fuel prices not succeeding to uplift some of the CV segments in the domestic market, it is the exports that are a definite positive that the Indian commercial vehicle industry will look at with pride. Thrust on exports is growing. It is helping the Indian commercial vehicle manufacturers as well as the suppliers to gain valuable global insight in the process. Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director, Commercial Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors is known to have expressed that his company has been exporting for 20 years. He is also known to have said that they are ensuring every new CV they develop will conform to global standards, making it a potential candidate for exports. Apart from the Prime and Ultra, Tata Motors is banking on the Xenon and Ace to drive into new export markets. The CV manufacturer is making necessary changes and employing new technology to ensure that these vehicle address the needs of the local markets there. Rising beyond the SAARC region, Tata Motors is concentrating on Far East Asian markets like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. It is also concentrating on Australia and Africa, and has flagged off an assembly operation in Tunisia.

 

Right tech for the right market

CV exports, in the case of Tata Motors, is set to make the SuperAce Mint a familiar sight in the Thai market, which is also Asia’s largest pick-up truck market. Tata Motors already supplies the Xenon to this market. Australia, at the other end, is turning out to be a lead market for Tata Motors from the technology stand point. The OEM is looking at offering a pick-up truck with an automatic transmission there. Keeping away from Europe, which according to Pisharody, is an expensive proposition, Tata Motors is expecting an export growth of 30 per cent year-on-year.

Applying a good deal of export thrust, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), under the aegis of Daimler Trucks Asia, is banking on the world-class trucks and bus (chassis) produced at Chennai. Working closely with Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), Japan, the OEM is exporting trucks to 14 markets spread across the Far East Asia and Africa. DICV trucks recently entered the South African market. From early this year, the bus chassis built at Oragadam in a dedicated plant begun exports to markets like Egypt where MCV builds the bodies and offers them as Mercedes-Benz. According to Erich Nesselhauf, Managing Director and CEO, DICV, exports of CVs built at Oragadam are part of DICV’s global growth strategy. To reach out to LHD markets, DICV ensured that its CVs could be suitably modified. Demonstrating interesting manufacturing flexibility, DICV began exporting its bus chassis well before it launched them locally, in the Indian market.

Eyeing advanced markets with world-class CVs

Despite being an expensive proposition, some Indian CV manufacturers are leveraging their European roots to export CVs to Europe. Volvo Buses India, for example, announced the export of its inter-city, twin-axle buses to Europe recently. Employing an imported Euro 6 powertrain, the buses are built on the same conveyor as the Indian buses. Conforming to the European standards and specifications, they are aimed at inter-city coach segment that typically does between 100 and 300 km. The Indian bus will thus compete against buses made by Diamler, Iveco and many European home grown brands. Claim industry sources, that one Volvo B8R single-axle chassis based bus was exported to Belgium in July 2015 from the Ennore port. Also, two B9R 9400 multi-axle buses are known to have been exported to South Africa during the same month; in March 2015 two more buses are claimed to have been exported to the same destination. In August 2015 seven B9Rs are claimed to have been exported to South Africa; one in September and two in October. Another Volvo Group company, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV), is exporting its CVs to 25 countries. In this regards, Vinod Aggarwal, Chief Executive Officer, VECV, is known to have expressed that they are adapting the Pro series products according to specific country requirements. Aggarwal is also known to have mentioned that in South East Asian countries, the need is for better technology laden products that could compete with the Japanese products. VECV is thus adapting its products to address the specific needs and aspirations of those target markets.

A source close to Ashok Leyland revealed that the company is bullish about SAARC markets barring Pakistan. India’s largest bus manufacturer, Ashok Leyland has been catering to the Sri Lankan market through its local subsidiary Lanka Ashok Leyland for a long time. The company is known to have found a local partner in Nigeria to help with the assembly operations for buses. A similar arrangement is underway for the east African region. The operation capacities are expected to range between 2000 and 4000 units per annum. Ashok Leyland is also claimed to be chalking out plans to invade the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Latin American markets. Holding a 75.1 per cent stake in Optare plc., UK, Ashok Leyland has invested in a facility at Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, with a capacity to build 2,000 vehicles. If the Optare connection and Ras Al Khaimah facility reflect on Ashok Leyland’s exports aspirations, the company has won a USD 82 million (approximately Rs.521 crore) contract from Senegal to supply 475 buses as part of building Senegal’s comprehensive and integrated transportation system.

 

Lack of local prowess

As Indian CV manufacturers exert an export thrust, an interesting environment that they find themselves in is to compete with players that are of foreign origin; are from advanced markets of Europe, Japan, etc. A local player is often non existent. Pisharody is known to have commented on this, that there are no local commercial vehicles companies in many export markets, leaving them to compete with European manufacturers and those that are advanced market based. In such a situation, Indian companies seem to enjoy the price advantage with the support of products that are comparable or even superior in value terms. If companies like Nextmotive, which manufactures SCVs, are finding it advantageous to export to SAARC and African markets, it may be safe to assume that an Indian CV is well received, and has managed to make a good impression. The global markets, it said, have warmed up to Indian commercial vehicles.

 

The figures

What better way than to look at figures to understand the export drive of Indian CV OEMs. In the period between January 2015 and October 2015, 80,823 commercial vehicles were exported according to the SIAM data available. This marked a 13.4 per cent rise over the 71,303 numbers of commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding period last year. A closer look at the CV export data also reveals that a better gain was achieved beginning March 2015. September 2015 saw a dip with CV exports amounting to 7,672 units, a decline of (-) 5.95 per cent when compared to the sale of 8,157 units sold in September 2014. In October 2015, 8,168 units were exported marking a rise of close to 9 per cent when compared to the sale of 7,494 units in October 2014.

 

The march continues

 

Indian commercial vehicles are making in roads into new markets across the world. Their ability to match the specifications of competing products from manufacturers based in advanced markets is presenting them with a big price advantage. Indian commercial vehicles are turning out to be less costlier than those from the advanced market players by up to 35 per cent, claim some industry experts. The fact that some of the export markets are far behind in emission compliance, is actually leading to an amount of complexity at the Indian commercial vehicle manufacturer’s end. The quest for providing world-class commercial vehicles is not lost. It is in fact gaining momentum, albeit with an expectation that the conditions in the domestic market continues to improve. Exports are supportive no doubt, they are however not yet enough to offset the domestic slow down. The potential for exports therefore is immense

Volvo dump trucks for higher productivity, more gains

Article by: ASHISH BHATIA
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Two new 10×4 dump trucks from Volvo on the FMX platform reflect technology and innovation for higher productivity and more gains.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

 

Volvo Trucks entered the Indian market in 1996. It zeroed in on a site on the outskirts of Bangalore to build modern trucks. Two decades later almost, it has launched two dump trucks that threaten to blur the boundary between a 100-tonne dump truck and a 31-tonne premium heavy duty tipper. Addressing the demand for higher productivity and more gains, these dump trucks are based on the tried and tested FMX premium heavy duty tipper platform. According to a Volvo Trucks India official, they were developed to address a need for an efficient machine that was not as big or as demanding as a dump truck, nor was it as small or less accommodating as a heavy duty tipper. Born out of the Volvo’s ability and experience, on a rigid tipper chassis with five axles and a payload capacity of 60-tonne, the dump trucks are called FMX 520 and FMX 480 respectively.

 

Big and burly

The FMX 520 and FMX 480 are powered by a 520 hp, 13-litre six-cylinder Volvo D13 engine mated to a 14-speed fully synchronised splitter-range manual transmission with an oil cooler. This engine also powers the Volvo FH 520 puller, and puts out a torque of 2400 Nm @ 1050-1400 rpm. The 10×4 configuration means that out of the five axles, two axles are driven. The first two and the fifth axle are steerable on the FMX 520. On the FMX 480, the first three axles are steerable. Measuring 10,105 mm in length and 4,130 mm in height, the two heavy duty front steerable axles (three on FMX 480) help with not just high ground clearance but a high load carrying capability with their I-beam design. The steerable fifth axle on the FMX 520 is also referred to as a pusher axle with electronically programmable pneumatic suspension which ensures right load distribution across the vehicle under the given gross weight. Additional protective cover on the air suspension bellows make them more reliable to use in the mining conditions. A straight I-beam design, the pusher axle is steered through electronic actuation and hydraulic assistance. The rear tandem drive axle ensures optimum traction and pulling ability. The reduction at the hubs takes place via four planetary gears, and results in an uniform load distribution.

 

Made for a hard life in mines

The chassis of FMX 520 and FMX 480 is made up of a robust C-channel section side members made of high strength steel. There’s full length inner reinforcement, the thickness of which is 5 mm. The front section of the chassis is bent outwards to accommodate the cab and engine, and has the same thickness of 8 mm in the web and the flanges. The front closing member with a central heavy duty towing device can sustain a lateral pull or push of up to 32-tonnes. The cab, engine, transmission and chassis cross member provide extra ruggedness to the chassis for tough off-road applications.

The superstructure on the 10×4 FMX 520 measures 26.1 cu. m., and that of the 10×4 FMX 480 measures 24 cu. m. Claimed to be capable of enhancing the productivity in line with the increasing demands of coal production, the FMX 520 offers 33 per cent higher capacity compared to the 8×4 solutions available in the market. The FMX 480 offers 28 per cent higher capacity. Developed with an eye on the government’s plans to double the coal production to one-billion tonnes by 2020, unique about both the dump trucks is the cab mounting and the engine mounting. The four-point engine mounting is optimised to reduce vibrations and improve road handling. Neither of the dump trucks are expected to ply on the road; they do not conform to the 49-tonne ceiling on trucks set by the Indian government, limiting their use in mines only. The four-point cab mounting includes the use of coil springs and shock absorbers.

Also unique about the suspension is the design of the front axle. The leaves lie flush with the each other only in the middle and at the ends. These ensure that the friction between leaves is less, providing a smooth and comfortable ride. The springs leaves are made from special steel. Their dimensions ensure that the load is evenly distributed over each cross section of the leaf. Riding on 12-24 cross ply mining tyres, the FMX dump trucks, according to Pierre Jean Verge Salamon, President, Volvo Group Trucks India, are a result of significant investments in bringing in new products keeping in mind the growth in coal mining. Vinod Aggarwal, CEO, VE Commercial Vehicles, said, “We believe in creating and delivering value to our customers with our comprehensive offering to help them improve upon their productivity and profitability. The comprehensive offering also includes Volvo’s aftermarket on-site support with more than 130 touch points. Aggarwal drew attention to Volvo Financial Services, which aims to meet the customer financing requirements.

 

While the tipping gear on the FMX 520 is from Mithra Kyokuto, the one found on the FMX 480 is from Hyva. It is a 5-stage hydraulic tipping cylinder provided with knock off valve limiting the tipping angle to 45 degrees. This is claimed to create less hydraulic pressure in the system. Aimed at overburden application, the two FMX dump trucks are equipped with a Volvo patented Volvo Engine Compression brakes (VEB+) for safer driving. Safer driving is also taken care of with a cabin that is spacious and comfortable for putting in long working hours. The availability to Volvo’s unique Dynafleet telematics system adds to safety. It also adds to efficiency and security by enabling the driver to improve upon his fuel saving skills and for the fleet company to manage the fleet in an efficient and cost effective manner.