The light and medium duty (LMD) truck segment has seen its share of challenges over the last financial year, primarily with the transition from BS III to BS IV emission norms and the shortage of BS IV-compliant trucks. Eicher Trucks and Buses, which is a part of VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV) has been participating with products in the LMD truck segment and is looking at addressing the market needs and help increase its footprint.
Recently, Eicher Trucks and Buses organised its Eicher Pro Biz Expo in Bangalore, where it offered smart solutions for e-commerce businesses. At the event, the company showcased its largest range of LMD trucks, which are specially-focused on catering to the growing e-commerce industry in the country. We caught up with Shyam Maller, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, VECV, to discuss about the LMD truck segment, the company’s unique offerings, as well as its electric vehicle programmes.
E-COMMERCE – A GROWING SEGMENT
The Pro Biz Expo was born because of the phenomenal growth in the e-commerce industry, noted Maller. In its report in 2016, KPMG projected that this industry is likely to grow to $ 20 bn in India by 2020. A large amount of the existence of the e-commerce industry depends on logistics, and within logistics the ‘last-mile’ delivery is where VECV’s vehicles are utilised. The vehicles play a very big role in cost optimisation for the e-commerce industry, as vendors offering logistics services need vehicles with the best possible fuel economy and ability to carry more voluminous load.
The typical cargo being carried in the e-commerce segment is more about volume and less about weight, which brings forth the requirement for longer cargo body. VECV has recently offered a range of vehicles catering to this segment of the market, which are a range of trucks suited for voluminous goods applications. The company aims to help customers improve productivity and increase profitability, by enabling them to increase their load-carrying capacity and thereby reduce the number of trips made for delivery.
The vehicles have unique attributes that competition does not have, with the predominant one being the 24 feet chassis in the 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 tonne Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). The newly-launched commercial vehicles were in Eicher’s Pro 1000 basic range and Pro 3000 value segment. The top-end variant of the Pro 3000 segment features a telematics system called Eicher Live. This tool enables real-time data to be sent from the vehicle to the control centre of the e-commerce company, as well as to the VECV call centre in case of any diagnosis of faults. Eicher Live also provides real-time update of the vehicle location, as well as other telematics details in terms of driving performance and fuel economy on a fleet-level basis.
TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCE, FUTURE READINESS
Eicher Trucks and Buses has gained access to technology through its association with the Volvo Group, and is now much richer in terms of processes, said Maller. The company is intensely involved in the product development along with Volvo, and gains increased development knowledge. The joint venture has helped the company to be ready with BS VI-ready engines, as well as develop advanced engine management systems and telematics solutions.
Maller noted that the company is reasonably well-prepared for BS VI norms, with the engine being taken care of. It has also started working on the rest of the aggregates for this transition, in addition to the other major disruption of electrification. On the topic of electrification, the company expects this technology to first be adopted for city buses and last mile distribution trucks. Electromobility has been a key area of work for Volvo at a global level, along with other technologies like autonomous driving.
SEGMENT PERFORMANCE & OUTLOOK
The LMD segment in India for FY2018 began with the focus on the transition of vehicles from BS III to BS IV emission norms. Maller noted that the overhang of the transition was that manufacturers were not ready with BS IV models, since state transport authorities could not match up to the required pace of approvals. Another deterrent was the wait-and-watch attitude of customers towards the new BS IV products. These factors led to the total industry volume for the first three months of FY2018 being disastrous, noted Maller. However, the market started moving upwards post July.
The overall trend for the LMD truck segment has been positive, and the company is looking forward for the last quarter ending March 31, 2018, where positive traction is expected. Additionally, markets like NCR are seeing a large wave of shift to CNG trucks because of subsidies being offered by the government, giving additional traction to the LMD trucks segment.
Maller said that Eicher Trucks and Buses is the centre of excellence in the Volvo Group for LMD trucks. The company will not be found wanting for any changes that it believes is expected, he said. The company is also looking at expanding its range of products, which is currently from 4.9 to 49 T GVW, as well as bringing in modern products and expand the range.
TEXT: Naveen Arul