MG Group, MAN to begin luxury bus sales

MG Group, MAN to begin luxury bus sales

MG Group, MAN to begin luxury bus sales

Homegrown bus-building major MG Group shared plans to enter and grow in the luxury premium bus market.

The company, which builds buses for clients Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, Volvo Eicher, and AL Nissan at its two facilities at Zaheerabad (operated by a group company MG Automotives) and Belagavi (operated by a group company Alma Motors), is now mulling rolling out its own range of luxury buses.

MG Group, which signed a strategic agreement with German commercial vehicle major MAN last year, will be jointly launching its luxury bus brand ‘Mammoth’ in India, in the next three months, aimed at fleet operators and inter-city travel companies.

Under the co-branded Mammoth range, MG Group and MAN will initially be introducing a 44-seater, 12-metre coach, powered by a 220-bhp front engine.  “Our strategic partnership with MAN Trucks India states that we jointly manufacture and promote our ‘Mammoth’ range. While the chassis will be produced by MAN Trucks India’s Pithampur plant, our Belagavi plant will make the body and other fittings, making it a 100 per cent localised concept,” MG Group Executive Director Anil Kamat told Deccan Herald.

In the next five months, the new 44-seater bus will hit the roads, while in a year’s time, the company plans to launch a rear-engine, multi-axle luxury bus. “We are steadily foraying into the luxury segment, and are not chasing volumes for now. Our Mammoth brand is not only being targeted at the domestic market, but incidentally, our very first sales order has emerged from the international market,” Kamat said.

He added that a fleet of buses will be sold to customers in Maldives. Besides, the company is getting enquiries from Bangladesh and Africa. In the domestic market, the company will rely on MAN Truck India’s 60-odd workshops for service and maintenance. The bus segment, owing to a slump in GDP in the last few years, took a big hit in terms of growth.

Even MG Group, whose two facilities had a joint capacity of 8,500 units a year, dipped to around 6,500 last year. But prospects for the industry are fair. Last year, around 80,000 buses were sold in India, across segments, and the potential market for luxury coaches in India has seen positive improvement.

According to market consultancy TEAMPro, the Indian luxury bus segment was valued at Rs 3,000 crore in 2013, and enjoys an annual growth rate of 15-20 per cent. MG Group is likely to increase capacity of its facilities once the order book for its Mammoth buses gather momentum. The group’s turnover last year was to the tune of Rs 400 crore, with its bus building division registering Rs 275 crore-Rs 300 crore alone.