In a bid to grab a larger pie of the urban three-wheeler passenger market, Rajkot-based Atul Auto is set to come up with a 'smart' auto rickshaw, all embedded with an in-built global positioning system (GPS) and WiFi facilities.
Having showcased the vehicle as a 'Concept Auto' at the Auto Expo 2016 held recently in New Delhi, Atul Auto is now revving up for the commercial launch of the smart passenger auto rickshaw. According to company officials, the smart auto roll out is being aimed at garnering increased share in the market ruled by Bajaj Auto and TVS.
"We already have seven per cent share in the Indian three-wheeler market. Now it is time to serve something new in the market to get more. However, we do not have fixed any targets but want to increase our presence within the country and on the global front," said Niraj Chandra, director of Atul Auto and second generation leadership of the company.
Apart from technological enhancements, the smart passenger auto rickshaw will also see plush interiors, Chandra said.
"Rickshaw is a part of cab services. While others like radio cabs are providing such facilities, why not auto rickshaws? This is also being done as part of our strategy for future expansion in India and abroad. The smart concept auto rickshaw is most likely to hit roads by next year," Chandra added.
Manufacturing conventional passenger and cargo three wheelers, Atul Auto is exporting the same in nine African countries. However, the company is now exploring other international markets such as Latin America. Chandra believes that the new concept auto model will help the company showcase itself better internationally.
As part of the expansion, the company is also setting up a new production facility near Ahmedabad in Gujarat which will double its total production capacity. "We are setting up new manufacturing unit near Ahmedabad with an annual production capacity of about 60,000 units per annum. Once it commences, our production capacity will be nearly 100,000 units from current 48,000 units that comes from our Rajkot facility," said Jitendra Adhia, president-finance, Atul Auto.
In last two years, Atul Auto has also covered almost entire India by expanding its dealership network. The company also added a petrol variant to its product basket to complete an entire range in terms of fuel.
Atul Auto plans to invest about Rs 150 crore for its expansion project while the new facility is likely to commence operations by end of next financial year. Atul Auto currently has a single production facility at Rajkot where it had doubled the capacity in 2013 at an investment of Rs 50 crore.
"Our aim is to sell about 100,000 vehicles annually in next three to five years span. For the current fiscal we are targeting our sales figures of about 43,000-45,000 units." said Adhia. Once its new plant near Ahmedabad commissions, the three wheeler manufacturer will expand its footprints in eastern and southern domestic markets.
"We aim to explore urban areas in domestic and overseas market with our petrol model. Our dealership network expansion is almost done and we will expand our network in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu soon," said Adhia.
Talking about tackling competition from majors like Bajaj, Mahindra and TVS, Chandra said, "It could be hard for us but we are confident to get succeed. We are not in a hurry. We want to go step by step. Currently, our base is already strong with complete product portfolio to offer and strong network across the country. Add to that, we are also going to add new age products like the smart auto which will help us to be successful in the market."