CV industry future

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A panel discussion on the CV industry future at the beginning of Apollo CV Awards 2018 saw the leaders of the industry express their thoughts.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

An expression by Girish Wagh, Head – Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors Ltd., about the effects of GST and the behavioural changes seen at the fleet operator level set the tone for the panel discussion. “Post the second quarter of FY2017-18, fundamental reasons” mentioned Girish, “led to the demand for CVs going up.” Leave for some early apprehensions of how the industry will pan out, transporters reacted positively. Business has been good post the stocking and de-stocking hiccup averred Wagh. Stating that there were some headwinds after GST implementation, Shyam Maller, Executive Vice President – Sales, Marketing & Aftermarket (Light & Medium Duty Trucks, Buses), VE Commercial Vehicles, remarked that fleet owners, parts distributors and retailers felt the pain. “Vehicle dealers who were caught off guard in terms of additional working capital also felt the pain,” he mentioned. Triggering a massive change at the logistics and C&F level, GST is transforming the way goods are carried, announced Maller. Opining that rapid growth in infrastructure is also helping the industry transform, Maller said, “Thirty-seven-tonne trucks have been the star performers this year. Growth is set to unveil itself in the construction truck space. The happy days of 2011 and 2012 are back.”

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Pointing at the start of uncertainties in 2008, Erich Nesselhauf, MD & CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, attributed the return of strong demand to the backlog. Stating that buyers became nervous after the roll-out of BSIV roll-out, Erich mentioned that it took some time for them to understand BSIV technology. “Acceptance improved rapidly thereafter,” he remarked. Expressing that an earlier communication from the government about GST or its rates would have helped, Nesselhauf said that the fear was of a decline in truck utilisation. The magnitude of demand due to the backlog was however of such magnitude that it pushed truck utilisation to 200,000 km per year from the earlier level of 80,000 km per year. Claiming that international fleets are entering India, Nesselhauf averred, “The demand may be much bigger than utilisation. We have received huge orders from international fleets that are entering India. They are highly professional in nature.” Expressing that those in the business are investing as per government policies, Vinod Sahay, CEO, Mahindra Trucks and Buses, expressed that a good per centage of CVs in the future will be made up of alternate fuels and electricity. “At least for a couple of more years, a large part of heavy CVs will comprise of diesel. BSVI is a good and clean technology,” said Sahay.

Electric and other technologies

Of the opinion that buses will go towards electrification, and would be legislation and customer driven, Sahay averred that there will be a mix when one considers small CVs, inter and intra-city CVs. Stressing on electric vehicle transition accompanied by technology acceptance, ecosystem adoption and successful commercial adoption of technology, Sahay remarked, “Diesel will be a fuel of choice in the foreseeable future for inter-city and highway trucks.” Suresh Chettiyar, Business Head, Volvo Buses South Asia, mentioned that a different game will evolve for buses. “An important part of the technology roadmap is evolving in the form of BSVI and electromobility. It is necessary to watch how it goes back into the public life,” he said. Emphasising on regulatory driven processes, Chettiyar averred, “Cost will be driven up by technology roadmap, which in-turn will drive performance on the road. The performance will come from the way people will travel or how goods will move. It will also involve safety and energy efficiency. The need is to allow a developing ecosystem to have the right standardisation and scale to offer value in terms of cost.” Of the opinion that technology is not a limiting factor, Chettiyar remarked, “It may be good to be optimistic or leapfrog by crunching technology that took longer to develop in advanced markets. It would not bode well however to overlook the current ecosystem, and if there is space for investment, or if the operators know how to bring efficiencies in operations.”

Stating that it will not make a difference by putting 1000 vehicles with new technology on the road, Suresh averred, “The need would be to get old vehicles out.” Terming electric mobility as far stretched, Somasundaram S, Head – Sales, MAN Trucks India Pvt. Ltd., said that the CV industry is already leapfrogging from BSIV to BSVI in the shortest time ever for such a leap to take place in the world. “The need is to look at the product lifecycle. The BSIV lifecycle will be shorter. With the cost of operation important, a tendency to accept and quickly tackle any disruption that comes in the way is rising,” mentioned Somasundaram. Terming BSVI as the most challenging, he remarked, “The roadmap on electrification will depend on how the market accepts it, or if the right ecosystem is available. Even countries that pioneered a move to electric mobility are finding it difficult to get the right ecosystem.” Of the opinion that ecosystem takes time to develop, and will have to be economical to work in India, Somasundaram explained, “Simply enforcing it will not work.” He drew attention to BSVI technology and how the next three years will be spent doing it. “Diesel is going to have a longer life than is anticipated. For electrification, the availability of electricity has to be looked into. What happens when the entire ecosystem, shifts to electricity will also need to be seen,” he said.

Meeting the threshold

Of a clear view that technology has to meet certain thresholds, Girish Wagh mentioned that technology should make business sense. He averred, “The move to BSVI should make business sense to a customer. It is necessary for the OEM to be able to meet the government mandate. We need to ensure that the BSVI product we offer makes commercial sense to the customer apart from making business sense to us. We cannot develop every technology even though we keep track and pursue advanced developments in various areas. In the area of electrification, the technology should make economic sense to the customer. Consider the recent electric-bus tenders, the economic sense to the customer is currently linked to FAME Phase-one incentive.” Expressing that battery prices and those of the other associated bits are coming down, Wagh said, “We will cross that threshold one day for the customer. It will address the customer business part. For OEMs, the need is to have volumes because of the lack of backward integration.” Revealing that the government is looking at how backward integration can be achieved as far as electric mobility is concerned, Wagh mentioned, “Range and cost are a challenge. The two have an inverse relationship, and buses will be the first to see electric penetration.” Commenting that it will happen with the support of incentives, Wagh opined, “Intra-city transportation would be the next to see electric penetration. Intra-city goods transportation, if it will make business sense, will see electric penetration as well,“ he said.

Expressing that India has more engineers than anywhere else in the world, Erich mentioned that it is they who will offer the electro-mobility technology. Highlighting a need to change the mindset, Erich averred, “We have to invest in electrification, and now.” Stressing on the need to have a master plan in place, Nesselhauf expressed that India is behind Europe in electro-mobility. “I say this,” he explained, “is because electric trucks are already being sold in Europe and the United States.” “The gap is far more when it comes to having charging stations, and it does not help to talk about electricity from the tank to the engine, but about what energy will best serve the need. We have to think of how to produce energy. It is extremely bad if we were to produce electricity from Lignite. The BSVI engine would be much cleaner than to have an electric vehicle that gets electricity from burning Lignite,“ remarked Erich. Of the opinion that there is a need to align the incredible people (engineers) that India has, to engineer a master plan for electrification, Nesselhauf said, “The need is to unleash the capability; to unleash the potential. By doing this, there will be no need to depend on China. China is keen to be a front-runner in electrification and is subsidising it. If electricity would be the answer, diesel CVs will be found in the future. There will be scope for alternate fuels too.” Explaining that one should not think that a certain technology will last for long, Erich mentioned, “The need would be to get the cash back (ROI) before its too late.”

Regulations and safety

Expressing that there are bigger concerns than just what fuel will power a CV, Vinod Sahay remarked. “Regulations that look at other areas like improving safety need to be debated upon. Calling upon the need to align the CV industry and the government, Sahay said, “It is important to catch up with the rest of the world on the aspect of safety as well.” Stating that a large number of trucks do not have an OE cabin, Sahay expressed that a big part of the multi-axle trucks has to take the leap to fully-built safety cabins. He informed that accidents are happening because of a lot of untrained drivers are driving trucks. “There is a shortage of CV drivers in India. We (OEMs) are opening driver training schools, but there are no students,” said Sahay. Not attracting enough talent, the problem with driver profession is a problem of the society. It is a problem that the country is ignoring. Stressing on the need to introduce driver behaviour regulations in India, and which are found in Europe, Sahay opined that there is a need to work jointly. Pointing at scrappage policy, and how the country would benefit, and not just the OEMs, Sahay said, “There is no point in having polluting CVs out on the road than to introduce BSVI emission norms.”

The rising reliability of CVs requiring them to visit the workshop once or twice a year is heralding a big change. Expressing that there is a need to look beyond emissions to support modern CVs, Sahay said that doing so will be in the interest of the larger economy. Describing bus body code as a scam as it has not got implemented, Maller said, “We do not know when the truck code will come out.” Stating that BSVI CVs with bodies that do not prescribe to a certain stipulated standard would be a potential bomb on the road, Maller averred, “Some horrific accidents involving buses has led to a rise in consciousness about safety.” Responded Somasundaram S, “Utilisation of CVs is going up, and a shift towards higher tonnage is on. This will lead to the inclusion of better technology. The next two-three years will see the need emerge for vehicles that support higher utilisation. Better network reach will be necessary, and the CV industry will continue to evolve.” Suresh expressed, “The potential when it comes to buses is enormous. Mobility needs are going up since we are low per mass of people.” Stated Sahay, “The ratio tilt towards goods CV does not justify the demography we leave in and provides room for bus growth to surpass those of trucks. Stressing upon adoption of better technology, Sahay said that utilisation is going up considerably for operators to be more competitive. The allocation in the recent budget towards rural economy will prove to be a big enabler for CVs, he opined. A rise in the rural income and affordability will drive medium to long-term demand, remarked Sahay.

Connectivity and infrastructure

Expressing that connectivity is growing, Erich Nesselhauf mentioned that safety has to be pushed up, and better uptime has to be achieved. “Evolution in CVs will be very fast, and will be comparable to the evolution of mobile phones,” he stated. Informing that CV operator demographics are changing, Maller opined that bulk buying has gone up, and is triggered by an end customer looking to deal with fewer logistics partners. This, he mentioned, would lead to safer, company built trucks with the higher payload. Lauding government’s effort to curb overloading, Maller said, “Rising infrastructure will shift the focus towards larger trucks.” “The funny rule of a tractor married to a trailer should go,” Maller announced. Underlining three forces that are driving the CV industry — regulations, TCO and total operating revenue, Wagh concluded, “Total operating revenue will boost active safety and comfort, he concluded. The panel discussion was moderated by V G Ramakrishnan, Managing Director, Avanteum Advisors.

Technology & Innovation in the CV Sector

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The second panel discussion focused on technology and innovation in the CV sector.

Responding to VG Ramakrishnan’s question on the move up to BS VI, Vinod K. Dasari mentioned that they came to know of the developments from the media first. He stated that as part of SIAM they have met the (minister) many times. “The industry’s position is that we will always meet whatever regulations that are there in the country. We have consistently adopted regulations faster than any other country in the world.” mentioned Dasari. “In Europe, the migration from Euro IV to V took about five years; from Euro V to VI it took about six years. Some countries have gone from Euro IV to VI in 10 years, some have taken 12 years to get there. The commercial vehicle industry in India is being asked to do it in three years. It needs to be considered that the duty cycle (in India) is different; the driving cycle is different,” Dasari explained. Mentioning that what is there in Europe cannot be simply cut and pasted here, Dasari expressed that a lot of work needs to be done in the next few years. Questioning the availability of fuel by 2020, he averred, “People say that Tata, Mahindra and Ashok Leyland do not have Euro IV technology. We have it since 2010. We are not offering it here because there is no fuel available. The petroleum industry is now saying they will make fuel available for Euro V from 2020, which is the same fuel for Euro VI. I think we are making emotional decisions. If there were Euro VI in India today, trucks would be actually purifying the air,” he added.

Industry ready

Mentioned Erich Nesselhauf that rather than worry about the industry’s readiness it is necessary to find out if the infrastructure is there. “Without infrastructure (fuel) it would not work. Also, if we would decide to scrap old vehicles not more than 15, and more than 10 years, there would be a lot of movement,” Nesselhauf said. He opined that there was a need for the government to tell before hand since there’s also the issue of finance. Offering a media perspective, Bhushan Mhapralkar expressed that suppliers have been closely working with OEMs on Euro IV and Euro V projects. The products are exported by Indian OEMs. Dasari exclaimed, “Expecting suppliers to invest will not be an issue in case of the move up to Euro VI. The question will be when. If the fuel is available and the oil industry invests Rs. 30,000 crore to reach that level, there will be tremendous pressure on ministry of road and transport to make sure that the auto industry moves up to Euro VI. The Supreme Court banned diesel vehicles. I thought about the data that was provided. To stop pollution, the need is to stop polluting vehicles. There’s no point in stopping a (BS IV emission compliant) vehicle, which has the lowest emission in Delhi. Unless the industry moves to Euro VI therefore, such emotive decisions will be made.”

Teaming up for technology

Avinash Belgamwar suggested a need to team up and develop a technology that will give substantial returns. Ramashankar Pandey averred that the industry has done a good job in the past; has done the norms as per the requirement. He called for a need to debate publicly; for the industry to reach out to the judiciary and the politicians. Stating that it is they who are much more responsible for purifying the air, Pandey opined that a business case of technology and innovation has to come through communication.

Cost implications

On the issue of technology and costs, Nesselhauf expressed that connected vehicles will dot the future. He drew attention to the use of electronics in transmission, which helps it to anticipate a slope and change gear automatically. Nesselhauf opined that more electronics will find its way into CVs. Stated Dasari, that if the price goes up (because of technology) and the (buyer) does not see return on investment he will not buy. Pricing will be set by the market. If everyone’s cost goes up, the price will increase. “The after treatment of Euro VI costs more than the engine. It’s not going to come for free. Some of the cost increases will have to be absorbed because of market considerations, and margins will thus come down. The other alternative would be to increase the price. The operator will charge a higher freight rate,” he explained.

Effect of Euro VI on the independent aftermarket

Responding to VG Ramakrishnan’s query on the effect of Euro VI on the independent aftermarket, Nesselhauf said, “The aftermarket will find it difficult.” Dasari, at the other end, stated that there are many technologies that are available. I would like to break them in two categories. One is the list of technologies that will come because of regulation. The likes of bus body, crash worthiness, etc. There will be technologies that the customer will choose. The likes of telematics, remote diagnostics and prognostics. In India, customers are extremely value conscious. They will choose it only if it reduces the total cost of operation, or provide benefits that can be monetised. Opined Pandey, that there is a need to educate the customer in the use of technology, for him to make a business case out of it. “Educate the customer and he will come asking for it,” he mentioned.

Technology evolution and value addition

While Avinash Belgamwar stressed upon an opportunity for technology like ‘connected vehicles’ to play an important role, Nesselhauf expressed, “Over technologies that help connect the smart phone to the vehicle’s computer and retrieve data what a customer wants is to know when he could pick up the load; the position of his truck, and what is the fuel efficiency it is delivering. There will be a need to reduce the vehicle weight; remove 1000kg per tonne.

On future technologies that will add value, Dasari said, “Technologies applied in India will not be the same. In the case of GPS, a new way of employing the technology has been devised by issuing an SMS the moment the driver drives past a mobile tower indicating his position. There’s no need for a smart phone. We will continue to compete in the world with the same level of regulations or norms at substantially lower costs driven by value conscious customers.”

Change is constant

Connecting the need for technology and innovation to an extremely challenging environment, Nesselhauf expressed that there’s always this thing about ‘if we made it someone else can’. Pandey drew attention to the digitisation of technology. He chose to connect it with the pace of change. While Pandey stressed upon the need to retain drivers and care for them and their families, Dasari stated that he has great belief in the Indian supply chain. “When faced with a challenge, suppliers are certain to come up with a creative way, which is often dismissed as ‘Jugaad’. It is not ‘Jugaad’ when the same level of regulations are achieved in an inexpensive manner,” Dasari averred. Responding to VG Ramakrishnan’s question on investment in technologies that have enhanced safety, Pandey said, “We have worked with most OEMs in pursuit of the product of the future. On the volume count, we are not looking at one player to finance it. We are investing in standard products that can be mass customised; can have a different signature for different customers, and yet have the same core.”

Going electric and devising new ways to devising smarter CVs

On electric CVs, Dasari mentioned that no where in the world has an electric bus been sustainable from a business economic standpoint unless there is a state funding. “If our government is serious and wants to fund a certain element of it, there will be a lot more growth coming in for electric buses.” “Electric buses cost substantially more than a normal bus,” he added. Expressed Belgamwar that electric is not the future because of the cost of replacement. “Hydrogen, I think, holds promise. He drew attention to work being carried out on feeding hydrogen and oxygen as a combination; have only oxygen and not air as an intake to arrive at a exhaust-less vehicle. Averred Bhushan, that as a CV magazine their rendezvous with technology during the past one year has been in the area of telematics, AMT and alternate fuel as well as smarter vehicles, which have more electronics in them; offer higher level of comfort and pride of ownership, enabling the operator to conduct business in a profitable manner.

Said Nesselhauf, that electric vehicles will dot the future, what with the capacity of solar panels going up every year and their price coming down. “Talk about city transportation, and about covering 150 to 200 km per day, it is simply amazing. It is easy and convenient. Another five years, and we will see them on the road,” he mentioned.

Dasari pointed out at alternative fuels like CNG, LNG, bio-fuel and ethanol. “Alternative fuels are evolving, and they are available in India and would therefore work out to be cheaper. To make them work and achieve Euro VI could be another avenue of technology,” he said. “As SIAM president, I would like to mention that the auto industry generates 30 billion jobs. A third of the manufacturing GDP comes from auto; more than 10 per cent of the R&D happens in the auto industry. However, if there’s a traffic jam, accident, or air pollution it is the auto industry that is blamed.” added Dasari. Drawing attention to the Delhi Government sponsored IIT Delhi study done prior to the court visit, Dasari remarked, “The auto industry generates less than 20 per cent pollution, of which 15 per cent comes from cars. That makes it 3 per cent. In the wake of the move to take the least polluting car and ban it, I think the auto industry needs to wake up; do things pro-actively and collectively.” He concluded, “Our focus on competing with each other doesn’t mean that we form a cartel. It could instead mean improving the image of the industry.”

Vinod K. Dasari, MD, Ashok Leyland

Avinash Belgamwar, MD, Nextmotive Motors Pvt. Ltd.

Erich Nesselhauf, MD & CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles

Ramashankar Pandey, MD, Hella India Lighting Ltd.

Bhushan Mhapralkar, Editor, Commercial Vehicle

Moderator:

VG Ramakrishnan, MD, Aventeum Advisors LLP

CV sector growth in 2016

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The first of the two panel discussions focused on the growth the CV sector will experience in 2016.

Satish Sharma set the tone for the discussion by stressing upon deficient monsoon in FY15 and FY14. Stating that the rainfall in Chennai was a deluge, Sharma drew attention to the incremental optimism seen in the market. Pointing at mining and road infra beginning to show up, he expressed that bank credit continues to be in the region of seven to eight per cent. “It needs to climb up to 14-15 per cent. Capacity is being put back by three years; the forming of the new capex cycle is still to happen, and the story is yet to play out. The consumption story has to play out. Whether the government is going to spend or the public is going to start consuming first, I think both of it should happen at some point in time,” mentioned Sharma. Stating that the M&HCV space is operating on a low base, Sharma opined that the LCV story is clearly negative, and reflects on an entire value chain that is not sequential. “It is a cause for worry,” he added.

Touching upon HCV segment revival, Nalin Mehta said that the replacement demand will continue and is likely to include pre-buying on account of regulatory expenses and cost increases. He added that fleet utilisation is improving, and the need is to wait and watch. Said Kaushik Madhavan, that there is optimism, and the driver for continued growth is likely to be the demand for last mile connectivity. Last mile connectivity, he expressed, will drive LCV growth. Pegging domestic sales at around 3000 units, which is about eight to nine per cent more than current, Madhavan drew attention to exports. He stated that they are likely to be around 12-14 per cent, and amount to a little over 100,000 units, which is good.

Speaking on freight trends, Rajinder Singh Sachdeva expressed that freight index has not seen much uptake in the last two years. He mentioned, “Every diesel price reduction led to one per cent profitability for the fleet owner. The Government is however not passing on the benefit of fuel price decrease. While the overloading ban has helped, the negative part is an increase in operational costs due to regulatory norms and toll taxes.” Stating that competition from railways has increased, Sachdeva remarked, “The industry is bracing up to compete with waterways, and there’s improvement in overall efficiency of transportation. There is hope, but the emergence of e-commerce, is exerting cost pressure at the OEM and fleet level.”

In response to Ramakrishnan’s mention of four pillars of growth, government initiatives on road infra, and a significant reduction in international crude prices, Dr. A K Jindal mentioned that there is optimism in the case of coal mines and infrastructure expenditure. He remarked that the effect is yet to be felt at a level where it will reflect growth. Stressing on an overall improvement in freight efficiency, Dr. Jindal opined that professionally managed logistics companies are seeking more profits by better utilising their fleet. He stressed upon fuel efficiency being dear to operators as it accounts for almost 50 per cent of the overall cost despite softening of diesel prices. Drawing attention to rising focus on safety, weight reduction, and higher load carrying capability, Dr. Jindal stated that these factors are influencing the design of trucks and their operation.

Stating that growth is visible after a long time, Nalin Mehta mentioned that the overall environment is cautious and private investment is not coming through. He expressed, “A lot of capacity was quickly installed when India was shining. Today, capacities are under-utilised, and discounting is a reflection of that.” Private investment may not be coming soon till other signs of the government stabilise, including the picking up of the convergence story, he added. In response to Ramakrishnan’s question about running on two cylinders out of the four, Mehta averred, “There’s good optimism on account of some of the fundamentals falling in place.” “No private investment proposal is pending. I would give it another two years before we see a very good time,” he mentioned.

Stating that 2011 was the best year for the CV industry post the recession of FY09 when the market halved to half a billion vehicles, Rajinder Singh Sachdeva mentioned that almost 29 per cent of the CVs in 2009 were above 31-tonne. The number has risen to 57 per cent since, he said. “In light- and medium-duty, it has risen to 47 per cent from 29 per cent in the above 12-tonne category,” mentioned Sachdeva. Stating that in (6×6 and 8×4) tippers, the count has gone up from 57 per cent in 2009 to 75 per cent, Sachdeva said that preference for heavier vehicles is on the rise, and has led to better operating efficiency. “In buses, there has been 18-19 per cent growth. Light- and Medium-duty buses have taken over because of city congestion, and the need for fuel efficient vehicles,” explained Sachdeva. He opined that buyers have become alert because of the talk of end-of-life, and are becoming more organised, efficient, and productivity is turning out to be key factor.

Echoing Sachdeva’s observation about a segment shift towards higher tonnage, Mehta expressed that there is higher emphasis on reliability and efficiency. “Transporter is learning a new way of dealing with this. There is last mile distribution, there is rural demand, there is semi-urban demand. The hub and spoke model is taking off even without the GST,” Mehta remarked. He added, “Once GST comes in, and the states are intelligent enough to not circumvent certain barriers, the (industry) will take off.” Adding a technology edge to the discussion on segment shift, Dr. Jindal stated that the 49-tonne tractor-trailer is today the biggest loading segment. It wasn’t there during the last two years. Also, pressure against overloading is on the rise. The demand for lower kerb weight is on the rise therefore,” he mentioned. Dr. Jindal drew attention to the rise in use of composites. This will lead to a big shift in the design of vehicles, he said. Dr. Jindal also drew attention to the emergence of autonomous vehicles, and the introduction of safety features like lane departure warning. He averred that with safer driving environment, it will be easier to cut down weight and increase the overall efficiency of freight. Sachdeva expressed the need to curb tertiary use of vehicles; vehicles that are not maintained well, and are operating in a bad condition. He stated that first five years mark the prime usage period followed by a sale to the second owner. “The biggest barrier to put composites on CVs,” explained Sachdeva, “is the refusal of insurance companies to honour the claim.”

Pointing at the mindset of a typical fleet operator who thinks that he need not spend money as he can’t overload, Sharma, in response to a question on sale of tyres providing an indication of growth, expressed that Uttar Pradesh and Harayana embraced radialisation first, rather than the disciplined south. “The grossly overloaded states did not radialise. We found out that the buyer is not ready to pay 30 per cent more for a tyre if he cannot overload,” mentioned Sharma. He added, “The current behaviour does not indicate a boom ahead. The retreading industry is looking far more progressive, and our dealers tell us that transporters are stressed; their working capital is blocked. As far as indications from tyre sales are concerned, tyre production is down by five per cent.”

Growth, opined Mehta, is seen at the FY12 level currently. “There’s a lot of replacement demand. Buyers are getting good deals. Looking at freight movement, infra activity, private investment, and global investment, I am optimistic that a year from now the situation would be much better. Young transporters are taking over, and they will lead to a big change,” he added. Delving upon the key factors associating growth, Rajinder Singh Sachdeva stressed upon fuel efficiency. “Fuel efficiency,” he said, “constitutes to about 50 per cent of the total costs as compared to 10-15 per cent in Europe.” “It will continue to be so even as the other factors including toll costs, tyre costs and driver costs play out. Not only has the driver become more aspirational, he is available in lesser numbers,” he added. Mehta averred, “I used to see a lot of cost focus in the transport industry. It will change to revenue. Focus would be to get better out of the trucks, and fuel will remain an important factor. Strategically transporter will start thinking about doing better; about achieving faster turnaround time.”

Expressed Kaushik, “Trends like the move to higher tonnage vehicles will lead to a change in price positioning. We see the mass market segment under 30 lakhs; premium segment under 40-45 lakhs. There seems to be some activity in recent years in what some would call as the value segment (in the 30-45 lakh bracket). This segment is going to see a lot of activity in the next two years. Different OEMs seem to be approaching it in different ways. There are the European players who are aggressively targeting this segment. Then, there are the Indian OEMs as well.” Expressed Sharma, “Directionally we are correct, it is a matter of when (strong growth will show up). My own personal guess is the year after.”

Rajinder Singh Sachdeva, EVP, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles

Kaushik Madhavan, Director – Automotive & Transportation, Frost & Sullivan

Nalin Mehta, MD & CEO, Mahindra Trucks & Bus Division

Satish Sharma, President (APMEA), Apollo Tyres

Dr. A K Jindal, VP & Head, ERC (Commercial Vehicles), Tata Motors

Moderator:

VG Ramakrishnan, MD, Aventeum Advisors LLP