Hinduja flagship commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland is planning to roll out its first electric light commercial vehicle (LCV) by the end of the current financial year. The vehicle will be launched under the banner of Switch Mobility Automotive, a subsidiary recently set up to spearhead the company’s EV strategy in India.
Nitin Seth, COO, Ashok Leyland, said the company will co-develop the electric LCV with Switch Mobility Automotive and it will be sold under the Switch brand. Switch will take over the product development and marketing, and will hold the rights to the LCV EVs.
“[While] LCV EV buses and LCV EV trucks will grow faster, [the M& HCV market] may not go in the EV direction so early. LCV EV is one market which is likely to grow beyond 2025, because the battery prices are likely to fall by that time … The first LCV will be coming out of Switch Mobility by the end of the current fiscal,” he said.
He said for Ashok Leyland, the growing LCV business has successfully helped hedge cyclicality of the M& HCV business. The LCV business grew from 0% in FY11 to 51% in FY21. “In line with our aspiration, we have improved our capacity to meet market demand and have been clocking 6,000 units per month on an average. LCVs will continue to be a focus area for us and we are already working on bridging portfolio gaps with our modular range of products, which will enable us to look at international markets more aggressively.”
The company is planning to launch one LCV product every quarter going forward. Its LCV portfolio includes trucks Bada Dost, Dost and Partner, and the Mitr bus.
In FY21, Ashok Leyland sold 48,908 LCVs (including exports) as against 46,646 units in the previous year. Sales volume grew by 5% and market share went up by 2% as against industry de-growth of 17%. Seth said the company could achieve good sales volumes due to a spurt in demand from the e-commerce and FMCG sectors during the pandemic.
On the capacity utilisation in LCV production, he said the Hosur plant is operating at peak capacity due to increasing demand. The capacity could be increased in due course. He said exports is another focus area for the company, and Ashok Leyland will start shipping left-hand LCVs to overseas markets from August. The company had appointed seven distributors in Africa last year and will continue to expand the exports market further.