Ashok Leyland is prepared to meet the emerging demand of e-Vehicles: Anuj Kathuria, Chief Operating Officer
If you are talking about the commercial vehicle section then you will find that buses demand in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 is almost similar to the demand in the same quarter in the corresponding year.
Ashok Leyland’s next-generation A.C. midi-bus, the Oyster, has been designed and manufactured for staff and tourists, says Anuj Kathuria, Chief Operating Officer, Ashok Leyland Ltd. In an interview with Swati Khandelwal, Zee Business, Kathuria says, in the commercial vehicle section bus demand has been almost similar in the first quarter when compared to the same quarter of the corresponding year. Edited Excerpts:
Ashok Leyland has introduced a new brand, Oyster, an air-conditioned midi-bus in the recent past. First, let us know the segment that will be targeted by the bus and its market size?
The bus, Oyster, has been launched for staff and tourism segment. As far as its market size is concerned, then at least 4,000 buses of this segment are sold annually, which turns up to be around 10% of the complete bus market.
Update us about its price range?
We offer a complete package to a customer and that is why the pricing will depend on the kind of talks that we have with each customer. But I would like to say that these buses prices will be kept like the price of other buses that are available in the market at present. In short, it is going to be competitive with other buses of the segment.
What is your view on the ongoing slowdown in the auto-sector mainly in the commercial vehicle (CV) section and provide a timeline by which it will return to normal?
If you are talking about the CV section then you will find that buses demand in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 is almost similar to the demand in the same quarter in the corresponding year. If you have a look at the trucks, then there was a decline of around 20% in its demand. But if you look into the sub-sections of the segment, like ICV, Hollige and Tipper, then you will find a difference in the movement of demand. There is not a huge dip in the demand of ICV, Hollige and Tipper while the major fall was witnessed in the long haul multi-axle vehicles. So, we will have to study the market segment-wise as every vehicle is used in a different application.
What are Ashok Leyland’s plans for electric vehicles and provide a timeline by which your electric buses will be launched in India?
When it comes to our preparation for electric vehicles then it is going in accordance to its demand in the industry. Ashok Leyland has provided 50 electric buses to Gujarat, last year and they are plying on the roads of the state. Besides, we are also preparing for the future demand in the segment. I would like to say that we are not behind the industry and are prepared to respond to every demand that emerges in future.
Ashok Leyland has to shut down production at Pantnagar plant from July 16-25, 2019, to rationalise the inventory levels. Can you say that operations of the plant have been normalised?
Yes, the plant has started working from Friday onwards. The action that is being termed as production cut was an action/shut down that was taken for correction on the pipeline stocks, which was created in the first quarter when there was a volume decline across the industry. However, shut down is taken to make sure that the plant is operationalised efficiently to ensure its full-fledged utilisation. It is beneficial for everyone and this was a reason that the action was taken. But now the plant is operational, and everything is back to its normal.
What are the inventory levels of the company?
We align with our dealer network and focus on retail sales. So, our inventory at both the places, at dealers end and our place, is not at abnormal levels.