Belgaum-based MG Group, the country’s largest bus body-maker, is entering bus manufacturing with its in-house offering called Columbus, an airport coach, by January. “For the past two decades, we’ve been a bus body maker only. But we’ve decided to move on and develop a bus fully in-house, including the engines. Our first product is called the Columbus, which is a premium airport coach or tarmac bus,” managing director Anil Kamat told PTI.He hopes to commercially launch the tarmac bus by January next. It is fully designed, developed, including the engines, and engineered by the MG Group, he said.
The Columbus is also the country’s first monocoque/ chassis-less coach bus, he claimed, adding that it is solely conceptualised, designed and manufactured by the MG from scratch by his own in-house team. Asked about the sales potential and prices, he said the company is in talks with airports and airlines both in the country and abroad, adding that his focus will be export markets. On the pricing, he said the coach that can ferry 70 passengers, including eight sitting, will be priced at least 50 per cent cheaper than the German Co-bus, which has a price tag in the range of Rs 2 to 3 crore. By selling 100 units a year can make it break-even, he said.
The company had in November last year launched an MG branded 44-seater luxury bus called Mammoth, which will also be commercially launched shortly. It is already under production for global markets like Africa, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives, he said, adding that though fully designed and developed by the MG Group, the bus is built on MAN’s chassis, and also certified by the German major.
On the overall business, Kamat said the company has set an internal target of doubling annual revenue to over Rs 500 by March. He also expects most of the incremental revenues to come from their recently sewed up contracts with the state transport undertakings (STUs). “We’ve already signed with Maharashtra, Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka STUs, which together account for 50 per cent of the national bus volume of around 90,000 units a year. These contracts should help us double the revenue to over Rs 500 crore this year,” Kamat said. With Maharashtra the initial contract is for 250 buses.
Kamat said the annual bus volume is around 90,000, making the country the second largest bus market after China. Of this, the MG group enjoys around 10 per cent of the market share. The MG Group has an annual installed capacity of 16,500 buses at Zaheerabad in Telangana and Belgaum in Karnataka, and since inception in 1996 it has built over one lakh units which are exported to 25 markets. It has multi-year contracts with OEMs like Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, Eicher Motors, Tata Motors, MAN of Germany and Scania of Sweden, Kamat said, adding that the group employs over 1,100 people.