“We are going to launch more than 100 models this year. Our portfolio spans the Ace Zip and the 49-tonne (trucks) and buses. Many variants will come from the Ultra and Prima platforms. We have launched about 20 models in the first quarter,” said Ravindra Pisharody, executive director, commercial vehicles, Tata Motors.
The Mumbai-based company had launched 80-90 models last year as commercial vehicle sales dipped three per cent to 614,961, according to data provided by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam).
“We launched the Ultra 8 tonne six months ago. But the big segment is the 10 tonne, so we just launched it. We have launches in the Prima and Ultra platforms in terms of a new cabin and a new power train. The Prima LX is coming out with 25- and 31-tonne multi-axle trucks. We will have more variants in trippers and tractor trailers,” Pisharody added.
Sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCVs) grew 16 per cent last year but sales of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) declined 12 per cent, according to the Siam. Sales of M&HCVs in the first quarter of 2015-16 grew 23 per cent, but LCV sales were still down seven per cent.
Tata Motors is confident of a recovery in LCV demand in the second half of 2015-16.
The company is preparing the launch of yet another model under its successful Ace brand.
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The national rollout of the Ace Mega, which is positioned between the Ace and the Super Ace, is a few weeks away. The new model has already been launched in the northern markets.
Pisharody declined to provide details about the launch, but the 1.4 litre common rail engine Ace Mega will likely have a payload of 900-950 kg and a price of Rs 4.4-4.8 lakh. The regular Ace with an 840 kg payload is priced at Rs 3.84 lakh while the Super Ace, with a 1,000 kg payload, is priced at Rs 5.09 lakh.
“The Ace almost killed the three-wheeler cargo segment. We introduced the Ace Zip below the Ace. Between the Ace and the Pickup, the Super Ace came in. With so much competition, people are trying to find niches. More variants of the Ultra, Prima and Ace are coming,” added Pisharody.
Demand for new trucks is fuelled by owners’ need to replace their fleets. This replacement demand will last only till there are vehicles to be phased out.
Typically, truck owners liquidate their assets after five years, but during the slowdown years of 2011-13 truck owners postponed the purchase of new trucks to sweat their assets longer.
“We are not deferring any product development. We did so in 2008-09, but it cost us because the market came back very strong. Of the Rs 3,000 crore capital expenditure targeted by the company, about 50 per cent will be on commercial vehicles,” added Pisharody. With this, Tata Motors’ capacity utilisation for MHCVs has shot up to 65-70 per cent from 35-40 per cent in recent years.