Ashok Leyland is gearing up to be a challenger brand in the truck and bus segment and will work on new innovations under its newly appointed managing director Shenu Agarwal to challenge the leadership of Tata Motors.
Agarwal, who joined the Chennai-based company little over a month ago after the abrupt exit of Vipin Sondhi in December 2021, is former Escorts Kubota president. At the tractor manufacturing company, he has been credited with driving transformation in marketing initiatives and creating new ways for driving for cost efficiency.
“Ashok Leyland is a challenger. A challenger always likes change but leaders resist change. Because whenever there is a change there is a new opportunity to pitch differently and possibly aim for leadership,” Agarwal said during an interaction with FE on the sidelines of the Auto Expo.
Between April and December, domestic sales of Ashok Leyland climbed 71% to 124,265 units, which is predicted to be higher than the industry average. Since Tata Motors does not share its sales data with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam, there is no tabulation of market share.
However, according to retail sales data shared by the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (Fada), Ashok Leyland raised its market share to 15.2% in December 2022 compared with 13.6% recorded in December 2021. “We at Ashok Leyland realise that we are a challenger brand and therefore, we welcome change. We will do our best to adapt and be ahead of the curve to be the first and smartest,” Agarwal added.
At the Auto Expo, Ashok Leyland showcased the Boss battery electric vehicle, fuel cell electric truck powered by hydrogen, hydrogen internal combustion engine truck, a liquified natural gas truck, all of which are built on the AVTR vehicle platform. With regards to the commercial vehicle industry, Agarwal believes that the industry will most likely experience a stretched upcycle in demand which will last longer than a traditional upcycle.
“There is pent-up demand in the market and we are at the start of an upcycle. I feel this time the upcycle will be extended. Elections are coming up and the government is pushing for infrastructure development. The next few years look very optimistic. This industry will go through a lot of change,” Agarwal added.
The industry transformation with regards to electrification is happening at Ashok Leyland too. While electrification of intermediate (ICV), medium and heavy commercial vehicles (HCV) will be part of Ashok Leyland, electrification of buses and small commercial vehicles (SCV) will be done at its subsidiary Switch Mobility.
“We see penetration in EVs happening in buses and SCVs. We expect the electrification of ICV and HCV to happen over a longer period. Switch is catering to that segment which requires solutions sooner (like buses and SCVs) and rest of the development work is going on at Ashok Leyland,” Agarwal added.