Macneill plans battery-operated auto-rickshaws

Kolkata, Jan 27 | Updated: Jan 28 2005, 05:30am hrs
Macneill Engineering Ltd, an erstwhile Williamson Magor Group company, is planning to make battery-operated auto-rickshaws soon. The company primarily manufactures forklifts,

The company, which is on course to post a turnaround during the current year, will be leveraging its strength in manufacturing battery-operated forklifts for making the auto-rickshaws. Macneill will be the first Indian company to make such vehicles.

Macneill Engineering chairman Pradip Churiwal told FE that the environment-friendly vehicle holds a lot of potential for plying short distances, especially in the city suburbs.

Battery-operated auto-rickshaws hold a lot of potential. In fact, in the rural areas too this will be very useful. We are planning to develop a prototype within the next three months and thereafter begin manufacturing in our own factory, Mr Churiwal said.

The company will also make the motor for the auto-rickshaws at its own factory which will be sold under the Macneill brandname. However, the company is yet to decide on the price but feels that the operating cost of these vehicles will be significantly cheaper, compared to the conventional diesel auto-rickshaws. Macneill Engineering has lined up a Rs 6-crore capital expenditure in 2005 which will be used for expanding its manufacturing capacity at its only plant in the southern fringes of Kolkata. The plant, currently, makes 850 forklifts a year.

According to Mr Churiwal, Macneill is in talks with Reliance and IPCL for supplying fire-proof forklifts for the companies PTA plants. It has designed a new fire-proof forklift that can be used in high-risk areas as a glass ceiling cut-off oxygen during ignition.

Macneill Engineering will also be in charge of maintaining the equipment in these plants. The company has recently bagged a Rs 14-crore order from engineering major Larsen & Toubro for supplying 78 forklifts in the current year.

Macneill Engineering, which has a technical tie-up with Sumi of Australia and is the sole marketing and after-sales service provider for Lindte AG of Germany, is eyeing a turnover of Rs 40 crore in 2005, from an accumulated loss of Rs 10 crore in 2003. We have lost marketshare to new entrants like Godrej and Voltas who have gained ground at our expense. Our immediate target is to regain those customers who have shied away from us, added Mr Churiwal. Macneill, which sells around 800 forklifts a year in a 4,000-unit market, is also reviving some of its old businesses like manufacturing of electrical switches.