Leyland to broaden 'Partner' LCV plan

After the success of its ‘Dost’ range of LCVs, Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland will variegate its latest LCV offering ‘Partner’ with a 4-tyre version to be launched during the May-June period of this year.

This is in keeping with market demand for a 4-tyre version as opposed to the 6-tyre version which the company has been launching in the southern market over the past month. LCVs with six tyres have faced mobility issues and action from traffic police within crowded urban spaces in cities like Bangalore and Chennai owing to strict anti-congestion laws.

Viewing the disguised demand for a 4-tyre LCV as a potential niche, Ashok Leyland’s 4-tyre version of the Partner LCV is tipped for release in the May-June period of the current year, said Nitin Seth, Executive Director – LCV & Defence, Ashok Leyland, who launched the LCV in the Karnataka market on Saturday.

The commercial vehicle maker is currently pushing the PARTNER brand, a product of the Nissan-Ashok Leyland joint-venture,  in the southern markets before expanding its reach in the northern markets. Seth said. ‘Partner’ is expected to better the success of Dost in the Indian LCV market which currently has a run rate of 40,000 units per annum.

The Partner range is priced starting at Rs 8.72 lakh and going up to Rs 9.29 lakh, ex-showroom. Production of the vehicle started 15 days ago. “We have around 275 outlets and 75 dealers supporting the Partner. Hence, service and availability of parts will not be a problem,” Seth said.

He said that the Dost, which has a market share of 18 per cent nationally, has seen a commercially successful innings in Karnataka with plenty of inter-city travellers evincing interest in the vehicle.

“We have sold over 70,000 units of the Dost since its launch in 2010 and have high hopes in the STiLE and Partner, where we expect further traction in the fast-growing LCV space,” Seth said.

“The JV with Nissan had decided on an investment plan of Rs 2,500 crore, of which we have invested Rs 1,250 crore in developing new products. We are now concentrating on more product launches, besides the 4-tyre LCV version and a bus ‘Mitr’,” Seth said.

On the back of decline in demand partly due to high freight rates and a slowing economy, Ashok Leyland is fighting to erase losses in sales of its medium and heavy commercial vehicles which declined 21 per cent to 5,576 units in February 2014 compared to February 2013.

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