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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Global truck makers launch their best machines at the Auto Expo

7 Jan 2010

NEW DELHI: The world’s second-fastest automobile market has drawn global truck makers to launch their best machines in the Auto Expo, even as domestic players upped the ante to take on the competition from foreign majors. On offer were brand new global ranges from the like of Volvo, Navistar and Daimler for prices going up to a crore while Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland announced new platforms and products.

The first glimpse of the truck monsters at the 10th Auto Expo in New Delhi reveals the finesse of these machines and the changing perception of the world towards India. The largest truck maker in the world, Daimler, imports the Actros range of trucks to India which is now the backbone of the domestic coal industry. It will soon launch a new range from its Rs 4,400 crore greenfield plant at Chennai. Its closest competitor worldwide, Volvo of Sweden, has launched the country’s most powerful truck at a staggering price of Rs 1 crore.

These new generation super trucks boasts features only a few luxury cars are loaded with. Automatic transmission, air suspension systems, adjustable power steering, electronic seats and front and side air bags that are absent in many popular cars are now common in these machines. this apart, they are backed by the regular gizmos. Many of these machines are so big that they are not able to fit into the huge pavilions at the Expo and are drawing the huge attention from the crowd. Riding on the growing economy and the fast-track infrastructure development, Volvo is looking to sell a few hundred of its most powerful truck.

“We are not convinced that India doesn’t need these expensive machines. It is one of that easiest machine to drive aided by all the gizmos that you will find in a BMW. Transporters in India are changing and willing to pay a price for technology and global quality,” Volvo Truck India president Somnath Bhattacharjee said. The company is expecting good demand from the sunshine sectors like power, petroleum, wind mills, infrastructure and construction.

The truck market is all set to boom and the new comers want a slice of the action. In a recent interview to ET Now, this paper’s sister channel, Anand Mahindra, VC &MD, M&M said: “As infrastructure booms, truck demand will take off in India. It’s not a plateauing market. It has enough space for newcomers to grow.”

Mahindra’s JV with American truck major Navistar launched two new products at the Expo. The MN 49 and MN 40 are both jointly developed by M&M and Navistar and the 51:49 JV plans to get into more variants as well as buses.

“Later we will have smaller, sub 16-12 tonne products, and this will complete our offering,” said Daniel C Ustian, CEO of Navistar. “When we are done with medium and heavy segments, we will come back to light trucks to see if we can refresh the platform.” The JV has already made an investment of Rs 1,000 crore and in the next few years will pump in more money as part of the next phase.
ET Bureau

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