Eicher plans string of launches

To tide over the slump in the demand for new trucks and buses, Delhi-based Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles is preparing to launch two dozen products, starting later this year till 2015. The joint venture company, the third biggest manufacturer of medium and heavy commercial vehicles in the country, aims to increase its market share in the segment at least threefold.

Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland control nearly 80 per cent of this market. In the heavy duty segment, where VECV presently has 4.5 per cent, the company intends to increase this to 15 per cent in the next five years.

At least 15 models of trucks and eight buses, both refurbished and new products, are to be launched by VECV over 24-30 months. Though it is not present in the mini truck segment, dominated by Tata Motors’ Ace, the company wants to keep its focus on the five tonne and above segment.

VECV inaugurated a new engine manufacturing facility at Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh, today. The facility, with an initial capacity of 25,000 units annually, is built at a cost of Rs 375 crore. This will produce Euro-VI engines for Volvo and Bharat Stage-III and Stage-IV engines for VECV.

Vinod Aggarwal, chief executive of VECV, said: "We should be able to hit the 25,000 production level at this plant in the next one to two years. We can ramp it to 100,000 engines per year with a further investment of Rs 125 crore. Our total engine capacity will stand at 170,000 per annum".

Sales of MHCVs (passenger carriers and goods carriers) declined by 16 per cent during the first three months of this year to nearly 56,000 units, as against 66,200 units in the same period last year, shows data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

The slowing hasn’t impacted the investment plans of VECV. While the past five years saw an investment of Rs 1,500 crore, the company said it would invest Rs 1,200 crore this year and the next. These are to meet the requirement of ongoing projects such as the engine plant, bus body plant and new products, beside capacity expansion beyond 5,500 units a month to prepare for the 2015 requirements.