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Ashok Leyland lines up 8-10 new LCVs, to invest up to Rs 400 cr

Ashok Leyland changes gear on brand refresh

  Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland is gearing up for its solo journey in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) space after separation from partner Nissan with plans to introduce 8-10 products over the next 2-3 years that will entail an investment of up to Rs 400 crore.

The company, which aims to become a full range player in the LCV space, will introduce a mix of updated versions of its existing products as well as all new ground up vehicles.

"We will add a lot more models. We are planning on our own and we will have a bunch of new models coming in. We will have a full range of LCVs over the next 2-3 years," Ashok Leyland Managing Director Vinod Dasari told PTI.

"There will be variants, there will be new models, new platforms. Maybe around 8-10 different models will come," he added.

When asked about investments in the project, Dasari said, it would be somewhere around Rs 300-400 crore.

On the timeline for the rollout of new vehicles, he said the first of the new products would hit the market as early as next six months.

He said while there will be refreshes and upgrades to the existing products using Nissan technology, most of the future LCVs from Ashok Leyland will be developed in-house. "The new technology for the new products would be in-house."

The company sells Dost and Partner LCVs which are based on Nissan's design, engineering and technology.

"We believe in the LCV business and we want to be able to offer full range of vehicles to our customers. We are only in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle space...Many of our customers, who own larger vehicles also want small vehicles, so we believe in this business and we will continue to invest in this business and grow it," Dasari said.

Last month, marking an end to their 8-year-old partnership, Ashok Leyland and Nissan Motor agreed to part ways with the Japanese partner agreeing to sell its stake in three joint ventures to the Indian partner.

As part of the pact, Ashok Leyland will continue to build, under a licensing agreement, Dost and Partner.

In May 2008, Ashok Leyland and Nissan had formed three JVs - Ashok Leyland Nissan Vehicles (ALNVL) for vehicles manufacturing; Nissan Ashok Leyland Power Train (NALPT) for making power trains; and Nissan Ashok Leyland Technologies (NALT), which is a technology joint venture.

When asked if the company would add new production capacities for new products, he added: "As of now we are not planning a new capacity. We have existing capacity which is under utilised so we will first ensure that is fully utilised."

Commenting on the Europe operations, Dasari said the market there is not doing well and the company is doing some "cost cutting" and is yet to decide on the future course of action.

"In Europe we have Optare but that market is not doing so well so we have to decide what needs to be done there. As of now we have not made any decision. It's only 20-30 buses a month. Market is not doing good so we are doing some cost cutting and all that," Dasari said.

When asked if the company plans to divest the business, he said: "We haven't concluded on anything. We keep on looking at options all the time...We are considering all options."

On big trucks and buses, he said the company has been doing well and in the past few years its share in the domestic market has gone up from about 23 per cent to over 30 per cent.