Hinduja Group flagship company Ashok Leyland has started exporting its multi-utility vehicle (MUV) STiLE. The first export destination is Africa, which will be subsequently expanded to West Asia and Asia, a company official said.
“This (exporting to Africa) is testing the waters, though it’s a confirmed order. The company wants to increase its footprint in the African market, which will be done gradually,” said an Ashok Leyland spokesperson. He, however, refused to give any numbers.
According to Chennai Port sources, the first batch of vehicles have been shipped to Tanzania via the Chennai Port. The Ashok Leyland spokesperson said the company is looking at exporting to India’s neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, as well as the regions of Africa, West Asia and Asia.
STiLe comes from the Ashok Leyland-Nissan joint venture, which was floated to manufacture light commercial vehicles (LCV). The joint venture’s philosophy has been “Japan quality at Indian cost”. In January this year, Ashok Leyland launched two new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) - PARTNER truck and MiTR, an LCV bus. Dost was the first LCV product exported by Ashok Leyland.
As of January, the company exported some 2,000 units of Dost. STiLE was launched in October 2013. It is essentially a re-badged Nissan Evalia and is the second offering emerging out of the joint venture between Nissan and Ashok Leyland in the MUV segment. The STiLE comes with a 1.5-litre diesel engine, similar to the one used in Nissan Evalia, and has 75 brake horsepower (bhp) compared to Evalia’s 85 bhp.
During the launch, Ashok Leyland said it was targeting the people transport, hotel shuttle, taxi service and ambulance segments with STiLE, with features such as rear windows that can open (something that was lacking in the Evalia) in the hope that the vehicle doesn’t receive the same response as its Nissan sibling. Between April and February 2014, the company reported a 14 per cent drop in LCV sales at 26,432 units compared to 30,592 units a year ago.