Tata Motors has introduced Electronic Stability Control (ESC) for its medium and heavy commercial vehicles. The CV maker is claimed to be the first to introduce the technology in India. Developed in partnership with Wabco India, the technology, according to Girish Wagh, Head – Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, will help to strengthen the safety performance of its products. Apart from ESC, Tata Motors has also introduced Automatic Traction Control (ATC) and Hill Start Aid (HSA) safety technology for its range of trucks and buses. According to Dr. AK Jindal, Head – Engineering, Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, ESC adds to the Anti-lock Braking (ABS) system, which was introduced as a part of regulatory compliance by the government for vehicles with 12-tonne GVW and above. Taking safety to the next level under demanding conditions, ESC predicts forthcoming instability and automatically intervenes by applying brakes to avoid rollover, skidding and jack-knifing. It measures vehicle’s lateral acceleration, roll about its vertical axis through sensors, and applies brakes on selective wheels to control instability. Benefits to fleet operator would include jack-knifing prevention in tractor-trailer, improve directional stability during dynamic manoeuvres, prevent roll over during turning at high speed. Where automatic Traction Control prevents wheel spin during acceleration on tricky, slippery surface, Hill Start Aid (HSA) prevents roll back of vehicle during ‘Stop & Go’ when going up-hill.
Tata Motors is banking on new products and technologies to drive growth.
Tata Motors will launch four new medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles (M&HCVs) in the FY2017-18 financial year. It will also introduce five intermediate and light commercial vehicles (I&LCVs). Experiencing good sales rise in the second quarter of this fiscal, the company, to address the demand for higher payload and better TCO requirements, will introduce LPS 4923 6×4 tractor, LPK 2518 HD 6×2 tipper, LPTK 3118 8×4 tipper, Signa 3718 rigid and LPTK 2518 6×4 tipper in the M&HCV segments. In the I&LCV segments, it will introduce Ultra 1518, Ultra 1412, Ultra 1014, Ultra 710 (with 1.9 m cabin), and LPT 709 CNG. Engaging with dealers and customers according to Girish Wagh, head of commercial vehicles business, Tata Motors will invest Rs.1500 crore across haulage application categories to stay ahead; to further cement its leadership.
Targeting segments that the company was either not present in, or did not have enough marketshare, the company has been driving the XL range of small CVs in the sub 3.5-tonne segment. To increase the reach, Tata Motors is carrying out a high number of regional engagement activities. Selling 27,842 vehicles in July 2017, up 15 per cent year-on-year, the company has embarked on a business turnaround plan that aims at a strong bottom-line improvement. Selling 45,906 vehicles in August 2017, up 26 per cent year-on-year, the CV maker is not interested in buying the market share according to Girish. Suffering a decline of more than 17 per cent in CVs when compared to last year, efforts to increase the ability to respond to market changes quickly, and to be cost competitive are being carried out. If the regional engagement activities are presenting the CV maker with a terrific opportunity to interact with customers, attention is also on the performance of the Xenon Yodha product-line. “It (Xenon Yodha) is doing very well on the count of fuel efficiency, and in the last three-to-four months of the launch, we have gained a market share of 4.5 per cent,” said Girish.
Tracking the performance of buses in the segments that the Ultra is in, Tata Motors is coming out with a range of Ultra buses. This includes an automated manual transmission model too. To compete in the 40-45 seater bus market, the CV maker has launched the flagship Magna bus. Working to respond to the market requirement of a hard-top Magic SCV, Tata Motors, said Girish, is working on a host of safety tehnologies and programs. It is ready with the stability program, and will launch it shortly. Driving a six-pillar strategy that includes dealer and key account engagement, operational excellence, product interventions, defence business, technology and powertrain road map, and international business, the company is also working on Automonous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane departure warning, and technologies that will enhance safety and lead to autonomous driving.
Safety tech & modularisation
With many advanced technologies that will help to reach the autonomous stage claimed to be in advanced development stages, Tata Motors is evaluating how they can be deployed to address product aspirations. To improve short-term performance, and to come out with exciting products will be key, said Girish. He pointed at the development of modularisation road map as an answer. “The number of parts in a CV have been converted into 32 modules. They have been grouped in 12 zones. All the zones and groups have been designed into a standardised and modular fashion, and can replace a zone or a module to create a variant,” explained Girish Wagh. Expected to help address market changes faster, the modular approach should enable Tata Motors to meet any demand change quickly. Especially in the case of fully-built CVs, the demand for which is rising. Working on a lot of technologies, some of which are in the drive-out stage and some are in the advanced stages of development, Tata Motors is confident of the deployment of 25 Starbus Hybrid low-floor city buses in Mumbai. Of these, five buses have been registered and will soon start operating. Showcasing Tata Motors’ abilities in terms of design, technology and experience, the Starbus Hybrid mirrors the Tata Hispano CNG hybrid buses that are plying on the roads of Madrid.
Working on LNG in the alternate fuel technology space, Tata Motors is keen to offer the lowest total cost of ownership. Described Girish that LNG technology development is at an advanced stage. The company has already produced a few LNG engines. Talking to Petronet LNG and IOCL to understand the nature of infrastructure the two oil majors will set up, the CV maker is looking at Delhi-Mumbai and Kolkata-Mangalore corridor. The Ultra electric bus, available in a nine-meter and 12 m length, is already on trial in certain domestic markets according to Girish. Ready to supply such buses as per the demand, Tata Motors has also developed a fuel cell bus in association with ISRO. Work on this is at an advanced stage. Stating that customers do not buy on price alone, Girish signaled a change in customer demand. He mentioned that they are looking at ‘comfort’. Concentrating on the development of LNG vehicles that are safe, efficient and comfortable, Tata Motors, according to Girish, is looking at offering a lower cost of operation.
Addressing dealer concerns
Paying attention to the pain points of the dealers regarding profitability and the ability to respond quickly, and how the same could be addressed jointly, Tata Motors is taking suitable measures. Supporting the dealers from the back-end, the company has created a team of ‘Dronas’. These are expert drivers that reach out to customers; travel with them for the distance required, and train the drivers to achieve higher efficiency. Also helping to overcome any difficulty customers may face, the ‘Dronas’, said Girish, are able to explain the changes in technology that have been triggered by the move to BSIV emission regulations in terms of caliberation, etc. Proving to be an effective interface between the CV OEM and the customer, the ‘Dronas’, according to
RT Wasan, Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, are paving the way for effective communication. The team of 40 ‘Dronas’ was setup almost a year ago, and strengthened, said Wasan. Apart from the ‘Dronas, Tata Motors has also set up a team of ‘Acharyas’. These include over 15000 mechanics apart from those that are a part of Tata Motors’ own network. Trained to service BSIV vehicles, they are a part of the endeavour to deliver ‘comfort’. The best part perhaps is, the ‘Dronas’ and ‘Archaryas’ are providing a feedback on how the vehicles are performing.
Expecting to ride the rise in GDP growth for the remaining three quarters, and the rise in the manufacturing index, the company is observing a change in the buying decision. Confident of yielding positive results on the basis of a cost reduction program, Tata Motors is working towards recovering the loss it incurred. Close to 40 per cent of the BSIII CVs have been dealt with. Stressing upon income from non-vehicles sales areas like spare parts and Prolife, the company is driving exports to de-risk domestic market cyclicity to an extent. According to Girish, last year was a record year as far as international business is concerned. With an eye on the future regulations, including BSVI emission standards that are slated to come in forced by 2020, Tata Motors is segment-by-segment defining value enhancers, which will provide ‘comfort’ to the customer. Acutely aware of the rising stress for alternate fuel vehicles, the CV maker is marrying technological developments to not just meet the regulations, but to enhance customer experience. Stated Girish, that the demand for value trucks in terms of rated payload is increasing. He explained, “With the implementation of rated payload, customers are looking at maximum payload that they could get within the given GVW.” Stating that they want to align with the government’s intent to elevate safety and reduce CO2 emissions, Girish concluded, “Our focus would be to deliver it economically.”
Tata Motors, unveiled the Ultra range of light trucks at Futuroad Expo, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Three new models from Ultra range were showcased including Ultra 814 (4.5-tonne), Ultra 1014 (5.5-tonne), and Ultra 1418 (7.5-tonne). Said to be designed and tested for South African conditions, its key benefits include ultra versatility with multiple wheelbase and payload options. It is powered by a 140 PS common rail engine mated to a new generation six-speed over drive transmission. Additionally, the Ultra boasts of extra space, ergonomic seating, best-in-class NVH levels and standard HVAC in a bid to ensure higher driver productivity. That apart the Ultra also features class leading features such as industry widest cabin, claimed to be a versatile platform for wider and longer bodies. The Ultra is made available in three wheelbase options & payloads ranging from three to eight-tonne. According to Rudrarup Maitra, Vice President, Commercial Vehicles, International Business, Tata Motors said, “The Tata Ultra range is a result of extensive feedback from customers in the South African market and we are proud to introduce this pioneering range of trucks here in South Africa.” “The Tata Ultra 814 is the first variant to be launched in South Africa and we are looking forward to launching the Ultra 1014 and the AMT versions of both models in the New Year,”he added. The Ultra range will be assembled locally at the Tata Motors South Africa (TMSA) plant situated at Rosslyn, Pretoria. Alongside Tata Ultra, Tata Motors additionally showcased the Prima 3338.K 8×4 Tipper, Super Ace Mint, the Xenon X2 Automatic and the Prima T1 Racing Truck.
Tata Motors announced the association of its pick-up truck, Tata Yodha with a new franchise team in the upcoming Vivo Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) 2017. Tata Yodha has turned official sponsor for the team UP Yoddha. One of the key focus areas of the GMR Group over the years has been to harness local talent in any sport that they are part of. With a number of local kabaddi tournaments in the region, it is expected to help UP Yoddha net some exciting new talents in the long-term. Speaking on the occasion, Col Vinod Bisht, Head Yoddha, UP Yoddha said, “It has been a really enjoyable experience building up towards what will be the inaugural season for us. The training camps have really helped foster strong team spirit in the squad.” ” We have been really fortunate to have a strong partner like Tata Yodha with us. Together I hope we can scale new heights in spreading the message of the sport throughout the state of UP,” he added. The Tata Yodha like the UP Yoddha is one of the recent additions to the Pickup segment in the commercial vehicle market and offers customers with a great combination of superior performance, highest earning potential and lowest total cost of ownership. Tata Motors’ association with team U.P. Yoddha reiterates the values Tata Yodha shares, with the sport as well as with the team. Commenting on the announcement, R T Wasan, Head – Sales & Marketing – Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors said, “As a pioneer in the Indian automotive industry, at Tata Motors we are constantly innovating and introducing class leading solutions, across segments and one of our newest being the dynamic Tata Yodha range. We are seeing excellent traction for the Yodha in the market as our pickup sales have grown by 60 per cent in the first three months of this year and we are confident of continuing to gain market share in this segment.” “Kabaddi as a sport resonates with the strength and endurance similar to the attributes of Tata Yodha pickup and our association with the UP Yoddha team is the perfect fit, since both relate to dynamism, being reliable, robust, and rugged with the potential, zeal and passion to overcome all obstacles and succeed at the highest level,” he added.
Tata Motors has launched the country’s first Bio-CNG (bio-methane) bus at the recently concluded Bio-energy programme – ‘Urja Utsav’. Designed and developed by Tata Motors, the bio-methane engines (5.7 SGI & 3.8 SGI) for LCV, ICV and MCV buses were displayed at the event. Alongside the engines, the company showcased the Tata LPO 1613 with 5.7 SGI NA BS-IV, IOBD-II compliant bus. The Tata LPO 1613 is already in operation by Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML). Organised by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, the launch took place in the presence of Minister of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, Piyush Goyal. Averred Girish Wagh, Head, Commercial Vehicles Business, Tata Motors, “Tata Motors has been at the fore front in pioneering latest technologies and providing smart city solutions in the commercial vehicle industry. We are delighted to present yet another product with innovation in alternate fuel technologies, to cater to the need for a greener country.” “The use of Bio-CNG will contribute in a positive manner to the Smart Cities proposition of keeping them clean and is a good option for wet garbage management,” he opined. Speaking on the Bio-methane bus development, Rajendra Petkar, Head- Power System, Engineering, Tata Motors said, “The showcase of the Bio-Methane bus is a step towards developing environment friendly vehicles. This gas, which gets produced out of natural degradation process, escapes into the atmosphere unused. However, if this is trapped and used in engines, it reduces the net impact on environment and at the same time produces useful power.” Having pioneered the introduction of natural gas vehicles (CNG) in the country, for close to two decades, other initiatives related to CNG engines include the likes of sequential gas injection technology, skip fire, plug type coils, long life spark plugs and longer oil drain intervals.
Last fiscal saw the Indian bus industry change; experience growth and excitement.
Last fiscal was a good year for the Indian bus industry. The industry witnessed growth followed by the enforcement of the bus body code (AIS 052), and the school bus code (AIS 063). Posting good growth, the industry also witnessed the arrival of sleeper bus code (AIS 119), which is claimed to be a world first. Progress was also achieved in tarmac and double-decker bus code draft. Experiencing buyout times on the back of good orders from government run State Transport Undertakings (STUs) and City Bus Undertakings (CBUs) as well as private bus fleet operators, the bus industry grew at an average 10 per cent last fiscal. Apart from the homologation of a sleeper coach built by Bangalore-based bus body builder (converter), Veera Vahana, under the new sleeper coach code in April 2017, the bus industry in India saw some exciting developments during the last fiscal. At Busworld India 2016, Belgaum-based Alma Motors displayed a tarmac coach with aggregates like engine, gearbox and axles sourced from tier suppliers like Cummins and ZF. Pointing at empowering key bus body builders like Veera Vahana, Alma, JCBL and others, the bus code, it seems, has provided the much needed direction to the Indian bus industry it looks like. Expressed Prashant Kakade, Manager & Co-Ordinator MDC, Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT), that the bus code has had an influence of turning bus body builders into bus manufacturers. “They are now looking at sourcing aggregates from key suppliers to make their own bus that complies with the bus code regulations”.
If bus body builders continued to gather speed and mass, traditional bus manufacturers like Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles, and SML Isuzu did brisk business as well. Operating at the premium end of the market, global bus makers like Volvo and Scania did well. The premium bus market, driven by rear-engine buses, hovered around 1000 units last fiscal. At busworld India 2016, in an effort to retain its leadership position in the premium bus market, Volvo Buses India unveiled a two-axle 12 m long coach with a locally made 8-litre common-rail diesel engine. This engine is made at the Volvo Eicher engine joint venture at Pithampur, Indore, called the Volvo Eicher PowerTrain. The 5- and 8-litre engines made at this plant, which mirrors the processes and layout of Volvo’s Skovde plant in Sweden, are supplied in Euro6 guise to many European locations of Volvo. Said Akash Passey, Senior Vice President – Business Region International, Volvo Bus Corporation, “The inclusion of a locally produced engine addresses the demand of our customers for localised products, and would reflect on the cost and maintenance of the vehicle.” Akash stressed upon taxation as one of the key reasons why operators take long to achieve Return On Investment (ROI) in the case of premium buses. This is also said to be the reason why many city bus operators are not very keen to procure premium, low-floor rear engine buses.
Premium players eye mid-premium positions
To make a compelling case for buyers, Scania took an ethanol-powered bus route to the market. Its over three years after the first ethanol-powered low-floor 12m-long city bus began plying at Nagpur. Since then, the Swedish manufacturer is working towards supplying 55 bio-fuel city buses to the city of Nagpur. If, and how viable they are, will be known over a period of time. In a bid to tap into the emerging mid-premium position, which according to Joerg Mommertz, Chairman & Managing Director, MAN Trucks India, offers an opportunity to better specifications than the domestic budget producers, global bus makers have been introducing products while homegrown players like Tata and Ashok Leyland up their ante. In association with Alma, MAN introduced a Mammoth front-engine 12 m luxury coach in early 2016. Volvo has been pushing its UD mid-premium brand of city buses in India. It recently received an order from the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad. Dharwad features on the Central government’s scheme of ‘smart cities’, which promises to overhaul the infrastructure and make cities ‘world-class’. Tata Motors bagged an order to supply 25 vestibule buses worth Rs.50 crore to Hubli-Dharwad in January 2017. The order followed a bigger order from 25 STUs and CBUs in September 2016 to supply 5000 buses, representing a healthy growth of over 80 per cent over last year as far as the order book went.
STUs and CBUs as growth drivers
In FY2016-17, STUs and CBUs emerged as the key bus industry growth drivers. A big surge in STU orders was witnessed last fiscal, and after a gap of nearly four years, indicating renewed focus of various state governments and city councils on public transport. With the overall commercial vehicle market in India estimated to be 715,000 units, buses make up roughly 20 per cent of it. The Indian (medium and heavy) bus market grew 7.64 per cent in FY2016-17 with the sale of 47,262 units as against the sale of 43,909 units last fiscal. The light bus market grew 3.94 per cent with the sale of 50,864 units in FY2016-17 as against the sale of 48,936 units last fiscal. Leave for the 1000-unit premium rear engine bus market, and a small chunk of rear-engine premium city bus market (that saw the arrival of a new player, JBM last fiscal) led by Volvo and Scania, the Indian bus market by and large is made up of budget mass volume buses. It is here that Tata and Ashok Leyland lead. They are followed by Eicher and SML Isuzu and others. Prominently front-engine oriented, this end of the bus market is driven by low acquisition cost, fuel efficiency, service-ability and low cost of operation.
On the back of good orders, Tata Motors grabbed the lead from Ashok Leyland in FY2016-17 as the number-one bus maker in India. For some years, the lead position separated the two by a minuscule gap of one-per cent. Said Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director – Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, “We clocked a growth of 22 per cent in FY2016-17 against an industry growth average of 10 per cent.” In the pursuit of higher profitability, Ashok Leyland pursued a strategy to exit some of the State Transport Undertaking (STU) businesses. Expressed Vinod K. Dasari, Managing Director & CEO, Ashok Leyland, “We decided to concentrate on innovative products.” Ashok Leyland’s stress on innovative products is not new. In 2014, the company introduced a front-engine flat-floor city-bus called Janbus. Providing a modern, albeit front-engine alternative to the low-floor rear engine premium city buses, the Janbus proved popular because it cost almost half of what a Volvo city-bus costed at an estimated Rupees one-crore. In addition to the lower acquisition cost, the Janbus was engineered to carry more people, and promised carriage of people at a lower cost. With AC optional, the bus, offering single-step entry, came equipped with an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), an India first in buses.
With the bus codes influencing the Indian bus market during the last fiscal, much technology found its way into Indian buses. AMT has proliferated since. ABS has become standard on heavier buses, and also air suspension. The market for AC buses, including retrofitment grew steadily last year. It is an estimated 20,000 and 25,000 units strong according to Pramod Verma, Vice President, Sphere Thermal Systems. It was between 12,000 and 14,000 units five years ago, quipped Verma. The demand for AC can be linked with the rising market demand for comfort and refinement. If the demand for comfort and refinement drew the demand for lighter AC buses for school, staff and tourist application in FY2016-17, many government transport undertakings – CBUs, under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric (FAME) vehicles scheme, took out tenders to procure hybrid and electric vehicles. Under the aegis of the central transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, two 9m-long buses refitted with electric propulsion system were introduced in the capital city of Delhi to ferry the members of the Parliament. Tata Motors will soon deliver 25 diesel hybrid rear-engine low- and flat-floor city buses to the city of Mumbai. These mirror the CNG hybrid Tata Hispano city buses that ply at Madrid. Late last calendar year, Volvo delivered two diesel hybrid city buses to Navi Mumbai against an order for five such buses, making it the first manufacturer to supply a hybrid city bus in India. This bus is said to cost Rs.2.3 crore against the Tata Hybrid city bus, which is claimed to cost Rs.2 crore. High acquisition cost continues to be a deterrent despite a 50 per cent subsidy offered under the FAME scheme. To be precise, there is the challenge of gap-funding, which will need to be addressed.
With electric vehicle infrastructure in India lacking, hybrid buses make ample sense. CBUs however are said to be already looking at electric buses! Last fiscal saw CBUs put out tenders for the procurement of electric buses under the FAME scheme. Perhaps anticipating this, Tata Motors, at the Auto Expo 2016 premier fair, displayed a 9m electric bus based on its Ultra platform. JBM in association with Solaris displayed a 9m electric bus with a pantograph. Not to be left behind, Ashok Leyland, which owns Optare, unveiled a 9m electric bus called Circuit in early 2017. The move up to electric buses traces its roots in the first phase of emission reforms in 2008, which led to Delhi city buses being retrofitted with CNG almost overnight. Most Mumbai city buses also run on CNG. CNG however has posed limitations in terms of availability and infrastructure. The operating costs of CNG buses are proving to be higher than LNG. Promising to overcome to limitations posed by CNG, Tata Motors recently showcased a LNG city bus at Trivandrum.
As government run STUs and CBUs continue to call for modern yet cost effective buses, private operators continue to up the efficiency of their operations by deploying technology and modern buses. For private bus operators, complex bus rules and high taxation structures, which differ from state to state, continue to be a challenge. Business for them comes from government contracts, corporate staff transportation, tourist transportation, and from the transportation of school children. They accurately map the flow of people such that school and staff bus operators render to tourist transportation during weekends. Demand for large underfloor storage compartments in buses is on the rise when it comes to heavier, long-haul tourist buses. This is also driving the the need for powerful engines. With infrastructure improvements, the number of people travelling by bus continues to rise. The number of consignments transported by buses is also increasing. It serves as a good secondary earning medium. Especially during off-season. Expressed B Anil Baliga, Executive Vice President – Bus & Application, VE Commercial Vehicles, “A lot of the operator profitability comes from cargo.“
Comfort and fuel efficiency improvements
Increasing STU exposure, companies like Eicher are deploying technology to improve NVH and comfort on front-engine buses. Eicher is one of them. Said B Anil Baliga, that their focus is on NVH of front-engine buses. On the subject of high preference to front-engine buses in India, Baliga mentioned, “Indian operators are smart. They know their Return On Investment (ROI) very well. The trick lies in selecting the right route and the right bus.” The enforcement of BSIV emission norms from April 01, 2017, has ensured that most buses come with a common-rail turbo-diesel engine. Most heavy buses come with SCR after-treatment technology. This has had a definitive effect on acquisition cost, and operating complexity, what with the need to opt for annual maintenance contracts with authorised dealers rather than depend upon private garages that are much cost effective. With fuel efficiency at the forefront of operator equations, it will not come as a surprise that Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) is aluminium extensively in the building of its bus bodies. Use of such a technology is also expected to keep it ahead of its competitors, and body builders that are moving up the value chain. Taking advantage of the bus code, bus body builders (convertors) like Veera Vahana, JCBL, Alma Motors and others are investing to turn into bus manufacturers by procuring key aggregates like powertrain, suspension, etc., from the respective tier suppliers. Signalling bus industry transformation, the growing equation between convertors and aggregate manufacturers is starting to spring surprises. At Busworld India 2016, Alma Motors displayed a tarmac bus with aggregates procured from tier suppliers like Cummins and ZF.
If bus body builders are turning into bus manufacturers, CV majors like Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors are concentrating on exports for growth. T Venkataraman, Senior Vice President – Global Bus, Ashok Leyland, puts the domestics and export sales ratio at 58:42 as far as his company is concerned. Buses made by his company are exported to the Middle East, SAARC and African markets. In addition to this, Ashok Leyland also produces buses at a facility at Raas Al Khaimah in the Middle East. This plant has a capacity to produce 1200 units per year, and is helping the company to cater to the African markets. Ashok Leyland is also exporting Euro5 buses to Ukraine as well. Tata Motors is also applying thrust on exports. It exports buses to various African markets, Russia, the Middle East, and other destinations. The company claims to have achieved a leadership position in the medium bus segment in the Middle East. Eicher exports buses to SAARC markets; to the Middle East and African markets. Similarly, SML Isuzu exports staff, school and luxury buses to SAARC and African markets.
Light bus market
With the participation of Japanese players like SML Isuzu, the light bus market is transforming. Tata Motors continues to lead this market. Its lighter buses flaunt quality bodies built by Marcopolo. Daimler India Commercial Vehicles is BharatBenz lighter buses are also finding good acceptance in the market for staff and tourist bus transportation. A strong player in this segment is SML Isuzu and Eicher. Both has there own bus body building plants. Both have a considerable presence in the school bus sector. A pleasant change in the school bus market is Ashok Leyland’s Sunshine. Claimed to be the first bus to comply with roll-over crash norms, the bus saw the company seek the feedback of students, parents, school authorities, drivers and others. Stress was laid on minimising blind spots and offer a cheerful travel experience. The interior of the bus is thus colourful; there are safety elements built in, and the seats employ anti-bacteria fabric. With the Nissan collaboration behind it, Ashok Leyland is expected to bring out new products in the LCV people mover segment. It currently has the Mitr. A 8 metre-long version of the Mitr will be launched soon.
With crash norms expected to roll out in next fiscal, and the move up to BSVI emission norms scheduled for 2020, the Indian bus market has only one way to go – to advance quickly to close the gap with buses that are offered in the advanced market at a fraction of the cost. The export of 12m rear engine inter-city bus by Volvo to Europe has proved that there is a distinct price advantage in buiding a world-class bus in India. Initiatives like sleeper and double-deck coach codes by the government is empowering bus body builders to turn manufacturers. This spells good for the growth of the Indian bus industry even as the traditional CV manufacturers look at increasing their reach into the international markets. It is not for nothing, that the Indian bus market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10 per cent by 2020. It is all about progressing demand, value and luxury after all.
As part of the ongoing restructuring at Tata Motors, Girish Wagh, Head of Product Line, Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicle (M&HCV) has been elevated as Head of the Commercial Vehicle (CV) business unit. Girish Wagh replaces Ravindra Pisharody, the latest in line of a series of top exits from Tata Group companies. Girish Wagh takes charge with immediate effect, and will work closely with Ravindra Pisharody, to ensure a smooth transition according to Tata Motors’ press statement. Known for playing a crucial role in passenger vehicles business unit at the company, Wagh is credited with rolling out products like the ‘Tata Indica’, and ‘Tata Nano’. Especially in case of the latter, the world’s smallest and cheapest car (Nano) that made it to the list of milestone projects for the company. Leading up to the top post, these credentials are known to have been further bolstered by Wagh’s contribution to the commercial vehicles business unit. It is here that he headed the ‘Tata Ace LCV’ project, a top selling brand for the company today. Wagh only recently moved out from the passenger vehicles division to the commercial vehicles division. His replacement as the Head of Product Line – M&HCV is expected to be announced in due course of time. Until then, Wagh continues to oversee the related scope of responsibilities. An old hand at Tata Motors, Wagh joined the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in 1992. Back then he was selected on campus from a premiere institute, having enrolled under a manufacturing programme. Having spent 25 years of his entire career at Tata Motors, Wagh rose through the ranks to eventually attain the top post. He takes over from Pisharody at a critical juncture, with Tata Motors undertaking a massive transformation process. As part of the process, about 1400 people are known to have been sacked, with various roles and responsibilities for key executives being revised. The process that started on April 01, 2017 is part of an in-house project, Organisational Effectiveness or OE.