Hinduja flagship commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland (ALL) told its shareholders that the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up opportunities for the original equipment makers (OEMs), like the company itself, to become a global player by riding on its own manufacturing strength and products that match international standards. Dheeraj G Hinduja, chairman, Ashok Leyland, wrote in the company’s Annual Report 2019-2020: “ I believe that now is the opportune time for Indian OEMs like Ashok Leyland to move, without inhibition, and seek a global position by showcasing our manufacturing prowess and demonstrating the products of global standards of quality and reliability. With AVTR (range of modular trucks) and the upcoming LCV range, I would like to mention with reasonable confidence that the company is ready to expand its presence in India and multiple overseas markets.”
According to him, another thrust area for the company is defence, being one of the largest providers of logistic vehicles to the armed forces. The firm will continue to position mobility products and solutions in an accelerated manner. “We should be seeing the benefits of our plans and efforts before long,” he said. On growth prospectus, Hinduja said looking ahead, ALL’s long-term outlook for the sector continues to remain positive, with the current phase seen only as an aberration. As the governmental measures to reactivate the commercial sector are awaited, the company said the management has taken the opportunity of the last few months to re-examine the business and operating models without any presumptions. Upon a clinical assessment of the short- and long-term prospects, a series of initiatives have been set in motion to reconfigure the company aimed at sustainable growth while minimising the adverse impact of economic cycles.
On business front, the reverberations of the market setback that the company had experienced last year continue, he said. The recessionary trend in the auto business has activated a wave of consequential challenges across the value chain. In the year went by, the expected level of improvement in the liquidity of NBFCs and the pre-buy ahead of BS- VI introduction it had hoped for, did not materialise. “From March this year, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a debilitating impact on all sectors of the economy. It is anybody’s guess as to when normalcy would be restored and what form would it take. The management had the foresight to decide as early as March 2019 to focus on costs, efficiency and initiatives for the long-term, all of which have yielded creditable market and financial performance despite the odds,” Hinduja said.
The company had introduced a modular truck platform AVTR for the medium and heavy range alongside the introduction of innovative i Gen BS- VI emission technology. Both are individually major technical challenges along with a mandated timeline to be met. In addition, ALL is ready with an in-house developed new LCV range and the launch had to be deferred due to the Covid-19 crisis. The introduction is expected to be a game changer just as DOST did,further reinforcing the company’s product range.
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