‘We are also trying to develop a bus platform’

Vinod Sahay, CEO, Mahindra Truck and Bus Division

Mahindra Truck and Bus Division (MTBD), a part of the Automotive and Farm division of the $19-billion Mahindra Group that provides an entire line of integrated trucking solutions, recently launched the Intermediate Commercial Trucks (ICV) range under its new Furio brand. The company already has sold more than 24,000 trucks in a market that has historically been dominated by Tata Motors and Eicher. Its Chakan plant, which spans over 700 acres, has been set up with an investment of over Rs 4,000 crore and is producing other Mahindra products as well.

In an interview with Furquan Moharkan of DH, Mahindra Truck and Bus Division Chief Executive Officer Vinod Sahay talks about the company’s plans going forward. Edited excerpts:

What are your plans with the Furio range of trucks in the coming days? There is talk that you are planning to launch a few trucks in this range.

In terms of range, we have just unveiled four gross vehicle weight (GVW) points - 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-tonne. Eventually, it will cover 21 products, right from 6.2-tonne, going up to 16.2-tonne. The full range would be launched in the next couple of years. In BS-IV, we would launch seven out of these 21 products and rest of the products will directly come in the BS-VI range.

What is the price range you are looking at in this segment?

This is just an unveiling. A couple of months down the line, we would be having a commercial launch, and at that time, we would be disclosing the prices of the range.

Any expected price range?

So, there is a price in the market for the current offering that the players provide. It would be very close to that.

Bengaluru is an industrial hub. How is the Bengaluru market playing for you?

Bengaluru market, as well as the overall Karnataka market, are among the best markets for us. It is a competitive market. Blazo has started doing very well in the state. In light commercial vehicles (LCVs) also, we command a healthy 7-8% market share. Within that in the goods segment, we command a good 10% market share. For Blazo, we are now inching towards 4-5% market share. So Karnataka and Bengaluru market are great for us.

Why is the Blazo’s performance in Karnataka not commensurate with national trends?

It is almost on a similar growth trajectory. Now what happens is that in every market, we have different network strength. So there are current network gaps in Karnataka - including in Bengaluru, which we are trying to address.

So while the product, product promises and the delivery remains same, a lot of ground strength comes from our network, which we are enhancing in Karnataka right now.

Are there any plans for further investments into this Chakan plant?

The Rs 600-crore investment, which we had announced, goes into the Furio range. Over and above that we have certain investments for BS-VI, which we have talked about earlier. Beyond that our plants are common. We don’t have separate plants for trucks and buses. This Chakan plant has an assembly line, right from the Jeeto and Supro all the way to construction equipment, as well as the Mahindra Blazo. So, we are going to produce the Furio as well on the same assembly line.

Is there any other range of trucks or buses that you are mooting to develop right now?

As I said, this Furio range completes our goods commercial range. We are working on a bus project, which we will talk about at the time of unveiling of buses. Like, in the case of Furio, we are also trying to develop a bus platform. We would be disclosing details about it at the right time. 

Mahindra has been a challenger brand in the trucks and buses segment. Where do you place yourself in all this, and what is the vision for you going forward?

In commercial vehicle space, we are already number two player. But our strength varies from segment to segment. In small commercial vehicles, we are the number one player, with our Bolero Pickups and Jeeto and Supro.

In light commercial vehicles, right now we are number three player, despite of the fact that we don’t operate in the full segment. In Blazo, we are number four player right now. We have surpassed the number five player recently.

And the aspiration in the Blazo range is to get to number three very quickly. In heavy commercial vehicles, we have toppled Eicher.

How have you coped with the aftermath of GST ?

The hiccups that were there during the time of implementation of GST were, in my view, settled very fast. And I must compliment the government and all the stakeholders , who invested our time and energy in it.

So, GST implementation in a country as big as India, I would say it was one of the best transition.

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‘We are also trying to develop a bus platform’

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