Commercial vehicles company Ashok Leyland said it was planning to participate in tenders by various state transit agencies for the supply of hybrid buses. The company said it would start exporting these.
On the sidelines of the 6th Edition Conference on Automotive R&D, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Friday, Prasad Gade, head (alternative propulsion systems), said Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan (for Jaipur) and Karnataka (for Bangalore) had shown interest to procure 26-30 hybrid buses.
This would be part of the Centre’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), which got a total allocation of Rs 10,000 crore in this year’s interim Budget. The allocation to procure hybrid buses was not specified by the Centre. This is a good number, as the deadline to file the tender is March 31, said Gade, who noted in five years, 1,000 hybrid buses were expected to be procured by the various state agencies.
“We are participating in the tenders. Others who have shown interest include Tata and Volvo,” Gade added.
Venkat Srinivas, special director (project development), said the company was hopeful about emerging as a strong competitor in all the states.
“The optimised version of the bus is ready. Though initially it would be diesel-boosted, it would also be CNG-powered,” said Gade, who noted that the localisation level of the hybrid kit, including the battery would be only two per cent, although the Centre’s guidelines have mandated that it should be increased to 30 per cent in five years.
“Ramping up the supplier base would be the major challenge.” said Srinivas, adding the buses would be assembled at the Alwar plant in Rajasthan. The other challenges were regulation and maintenance cost.
To a question on whether the company would look at its UK subsidiary, Optare’s hybrid buses, he said, “Optare products are a little too much for this market. The bus density is less,” said Srinivas, who noted the company’s offering here would be of 12 metre length.
The products are expected to be rolled out in a year or so. “We have got the product ready. We just need to understand the particulars of the agencies which are placing the order.”
Srinivasa said hybrid buses would cost 3-4 times higher than normal A/C low floor buses, which cost Rs 50-55 lakh. He added that the company was also looking at exporting these buses, going forward.
Speaking about e-Dost, an electric version of Ashok Leyland’s Light Commercial Vehicle, he said the prototype of the vehicle was ready and the company could introduce the product as the market demand took up.