Manufacturers are betting on new, efficient and highly productive commercial vehicles to arrest the downturn
The year 2013 was a bad one for the Indian automobile industry. The segments that witnessed decline are commercial vehicles, and among them the medium and heavy commercial vehicles. LCVs did better. In what is regarded as a cyclical downturn, CV sales in the last month of 2013 calendar year declined by 28%. The industry sold 13,770 CVs in December 2013 as compared to 19,105 CVs sold in December 2012. With factors like high interest rates, rising diesel prices and lack of business, commercial vehicles sales are not expected to pick up in a hurry. However moderation of inflation could light up a road to recovery in the second half of 2014. To support the recovery, manufacturers are betting on new, efficient and highly productive commercial vehicles. They are technologically modern, efficient and promise higher productivity.
A 50:50 joint venture between the Volvo Group and Eicher Motors, Volvo Eicher launched a new range of trucks and buses with Pegasus styling in November 2013. Resulting in a revamp of the entire range of vehicles on offer from Volvo Eicher, the 11 new products, dubbed as the Pro Series, include four categories of trucks with a payload range of 5- to 49-tonne gross vehicle weight. The Pro1000 range, to be precise, has trucks with a payload of 5- to 14-tonne GVW. The Pro3000 has medium-duty trucks with a payload range of 9- to 14-tonne GVW; the Pro6000 has heavy-duty trucks (tippers and trailers too) with a payload range of 16- to 40-tonne GVW. At the top is the Pro 8000 series with a payload range of 25- to 49-tonne GVW. Powering these trucks will be new generation engines adapted from the Volvo Group with power ranging from 180hp to 280hp. Light duty trucks will be powered by a new 4-cylinder VEDX 5 engine that produces power up to 210hp. This engine flaunts 4-valves per cylinder. If the Pro Series trucks promise more uptime, faster turn around and higher fuel efficiency, the Skyline Pro buses are based on a completely new platform. They seat more people and make good platforms for use as school buses and staff buses.
Ashok Leyland has introduced a new truck range called the Captain Series. The series includes a 25-tonne tipper among the range of rigid trucks, tippers and tractor trailers. The highlight of the Captain Series is the new cabin and the H-Series common-rail fuel injection diesel engine that produces between 160 and 360hp. With a payload range of 16- to 49-tonne GVW, the Captain Series trucks are equipped with a durable and efficient 9-speed transmission. Employing modern electrical and electronic architecture, the cab could be had in a day type, sleeper type, or a high roof type. To ensure trouble-free operation under arduous conditions, the tippers employ hub reduction technology in the rear axle. This adds extra traction to the wheels when negotiating steep gradients. The suspension is a bogie design, and the cabin is equipped with an air conditioner. The production at Avia in Czech Republic may have halted, but the Boss intermediate commercial vehicle employs some of the salient features found on the Avia, including the modern and comfortable cabin as well as an automated manual transmission.
Made under the guise of the World Truck platform, the Prima range of trucks was developed in close co-operation with the Daewoo commercial vehicle arm of Korea. The outcome was a platform that was modern, and perhaps a little costlier than most loyal Tata customers could envisage. Soon came out cost effective variants of the platform in 2012. Called the Prima LX, the range comprised a 49- and 40-tonne tractor powered by a de-tuned version of the 6.7-litre Cummins Isbe 370bhp engine. The LX does 230hp and is equipped with a G1150 9-speed gearbox. The Prima Puller (4938S) does 380hp. Transmission is an Eaton 9-speed unit with crawler gear. The 4×8 deep mining tipper with a 31-tonne payload does 370 bhp, and has a 9-speed Eaton gearbox. There is an option of Allison auto transmission too. The 31-tonne, 4×8 light-duty tipper is powered by an 180hp Tata Cummins B Series 5.9 diesel engine. The transmission is a 9-speed gearbox with crawler gear. The most significant in the LX range is the 10×4 5-axle rigid truck called the LPT 3723 TC. It is powered by a 215hp, Tata Cummins B5.9 diesel engine mated to a G1150 OD gearbox. In the third quarter of 2013, the Prima range received another fill-up in the form of six new construction trucks that promised lowest cost of ownership. The LPK 3118 8×2 haulage tipper with sleeper cabin is designed for long-haul surface transport applications; the LPK 3723 10×4, a 10 cum transit mixer application; the LX 2523.K, aimed at mining and construction application; the Prima LX 3123.K for construction application and surface transport; and the Tata Prima LX 2528.K for heavy-duty mining and construction application. Looking beyond, Tata also introduced a new intermediate truck platform in 2013.
To address the issue of cost of ownership, AMW launched cowl trucks in 2013. However the big news for 2014 will be the introduction of new medium and heavy-duty truck range with a thoroughly modern cabin designed by Bertone. This cabin is on par with the cabins offered by European manufacturers. However, not stopping at that, the company is also working on a new range of trucks in the area it is in, as well as at the intermediate level. The intermediate trucks will arrive after a range of medium and heavy-duty trucks with new ‘Bertone’ cabin, which is currently on the verge of entering production. The year 2012 and 2013 saw the CV manufacturer introduce cowl range in an effort to better address the needs of the market. Enjoying a good penetration in the 25- to 31-tonne tipper market, the company is expected to introduce new, more efficient tipper models in the later half of this year.
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