In a fillip to the government’s coastal shipping initiative, Ashok Leyland is set to become the third vehicle manufacturer to explore the coastal route to transport their vehicles to their destination market. The Chennai-based company will load 185 trucks on to the IDM Doodle vessel on Friday, which will set sail for Mongla Port in Bangladesh, a key market for Ashok Leyland. IDM Doodle has a total capacity of 200 trucks (depending on the size of the trucks) and belongs to the company LFonds India Private Limited. The cost of transportation by the sea route is expected to be in a range between Rs 50,000-60,000 per truck. According to analysts, the company currently spends up to Rs 100,000 per truck on transportation costs via road. In addition, the authorised dealers of the company also bear heavy interest costs on a daily basis until the time the trucks are delivered, with each day’s delay costing dealers heavily.
In addition, the sea route is environment-friendly and results in a reduced carbon footprint and congestion on the road. Binu Joshua Thomas, a consultant for LFonds India told FE the company is now working on securing return cargo which could be picked up either from Bangladesh or from Haldia, Paradip or other ports on India’s eastern coast. The country’s second largest commercial vehicle manufacturer currently drives all its trucks meant for the Bangladesh market via road, along the eastern coast, all the way up north and into the neighbouring country. The journey takes four-five days and the trucks spend an additional five-seven days at the border check-posts to clear the requisite formalities for crossing over. In August 2016, Maruti became the first manufacturer to explore the waterways route as it ran a pilot project, transporting 24 cars to Kolkata from Varanasi, over 1,210-km on the river Ganges.
Earlier, in February 2016, Hyundai shipped 800 cars meant for the western and northern markets via the coastal route from Chennai Port to Pipavav Port in Gujarat. However, the initiative failed to take off as the shipping company did not receive the incentive of `3,000 per car that the shipping ministry had recommended to the finance ministry in order to provide a boost to coastal shipping.