Denis E Trifonoff, Chief Executive Officer, Kamaz Vectra Motors"The latest trends show a growing demand for heavy trucks, including multi-axle trucks. This market segment is expected to grow exponentially and it is exactly this segment where we offer the customers high-powered, but affordable trucks," says Denis E Trifonoff, Chief Executive Officer, Kamaz Vectra Motors in an exclusive interview with Equipment India.The rapidly growing and very promising automobile market in India is among the first-priority ones for Kamaz Vectra Motors, an Indo-Russian joint venture between Kamaz Inc, Russia, and the Vectra Group. The company which has a state-of -the-art production unit at Hosur, near Bangalore, has been making rapid forays into the Indian market with its new generation multi-axle tipper."We are a global player, with a significant present in the international markets of Europe, Africa, South East Asia and Latin America. Once we achieved very good results in our market, we thought of developing further, strategically for the next 20 years; and we knew to be in the competition, we needed to be strategically positioned in India and China," says Denis. "We wanted an assembly facility in the Indian Ocean region as we have not been represented in the right-hand drive countries. We considered Bangladesh, Indonesia and Africa. All said and done, if you need to be a global player, you need to be in India, and we are here." Denis says. "First of all, India is a key market which is highly promising, and another major factor is that the investment climate in India is the best. Then it just took one- and-a- half years from ideation to opening a plant in India," points out Denis.Speaking about the potential in the Indian Ocean right-hand drive countries, Denis says, "The potential is really huge; it is estimated to be around five lakh trucks per year." How is Kamaz placed to tap the market? Denis says, "Our plant in Bangalore is a hub for the complete region. We have already started in Bhutan, have appointed our dealers, and are starting to supply trucks there. The next steps are Bangladesh, Indonesia and South Africa. India is a hub as it is a perfect place for production and it's a major centre for components manufacturers."That brings into focus the localisation agenda of Kamaz and how the company has been successful in its attempt to make it a truly Indian truck. "Currently, 71 per cent of the truck is localised, and in the next year, we are going to have around 90 per cent of local components. As we are reducing the import content gradually, it will soon be an hundred per cent Indian truck," points out Denis. "Our main concept is quality and there is no compromise on that. The quality of components is very good, and consistent. On our part, all the components are tested in our R&D plant in Hosur, and also tested in our laboratory in Russia. Those components are then tested on trial trucks under very tough conditions. I can well assure clients that the components used in the truck meet all the requirements."At present Kamaz import cabins, axles and engines. Denis says, "Now we import cabins, as we are not able to meet the painting facilities meeting our requirements. As far as axles are concerned, Kamaz is also one of the best in their manufacture. Nevertheless, discussion is on with the local manufactures, and hopefully by next year, I think everything should be ready. Where engines are concerned, we are eighth in production by volume, in the world. It is the heart of the truck, and we need to be hundred per cent sure; Kamaz has been proved all over the world."The truck Kamaz currently offers has been updated to a great extent. "We tested our truck in every possible application and every possible region in India - in iron ore mining, coal mining and road applications. We took feedback from owners, drivers, technicians, dealers who sold and serviced those trucks, and based on the input collected, we have updated the truck for better comfort and performance," says Denis. "Apart from that, we brought ten modifications to meet the exact requirement of any customer - we enhanced the frame design, cabin design, super structure and dumping equipment design."Speaking about the market, Denis says, "We are here for a long time, and we develop step by step. We are not into number games; rather, our major focus is service. Even though our target for this fiscal is around 1,000 trucks, what is more important for us is that every truck sold needs to be serviced, and we are developing the capacity and capabilities on that front. At Hosur, we have a big and well- equipped service station backed up by professional service engineers. We already have dealers in 11 states, who have appointed sub-dealers and service networks with our support," he points out.Speaking about widening the product basket, Denis informs, "We are very much on track in our agenda of bringing new product lines. By next year, we will be launching 6x4 tippers, and 6x4 haulage trucks and 6x4 chassis for superstructure like cranes, concrete mixers, and concrete pumps and so on. We will also be launching our 8x4 49- tonner heavy duty trucks for deep mining applications, and 4x2 tractors for road applications."Highlighting the growth potential, Denis says, "The most promising segments we consider to be tippers and tractors, which is growing a hundred per cent annually." He continues, "The total market for tippers is around 50,000 units of which we will be targeting a ten per cent in five years` time." Supporting his claim, Denis says, "We have huge experience in the markets world over. Kamaz technology is one of the most advanced in the world, and we have the best R&D facility. We have joint ventures with most of the largest components manufacturers in the world and we can produce perfect European quality product for the Indian price. And that is our edge on the competition. We have very good experience and successful track record in other markets like Europe, South East Asia, and Africa. We are convinced that we can achieve our goal."Asked when they expect to break even, Denis confidently says, "We expect our current investment payback in three years time. Our target for this fiscal is 1,000 trucks, the next fiscal is 2,000 trucks and for the third fiscal, it will be around 5,000 trucks."Explaining the logic behind launching the 8x4 platform for road application, Denis has this to say, "First of all, it is our social responsibility. For the last five years, a lot of quality highways have been constructed but the trucks that ply on those roads, basically 4x6 and 4x2 are overloaded, which can damage the roads. And in another five years down the line, one will need to invest again. As per the Indian laws, the axle load allowed is nine tonnes, and we brought in the 8x4 truck to show it is more profitable to use multi-axle trucks. It is the international market norm."Denis continues, "If you look at it, we pioneered the 8x4 platform for road application, and many have followed suit. The logic is simple - it is more economical and profitable, and more road-friendly trucks than using medium or LCV trucks with overloading. In India we have good roads now, and with the government`s thrust to invest one trillion rupees for the development of roads, it is very obvious that using tractors with big semi-trailers is more profitable, more economical and reasonable than using haulages and some medium trucks." He further adds, "Moreover, the latest trends show a growing demand for heavy trucks including multi-axle trucks. This market segment is expected to grow exponentially and it is exactly in this segment we offer the customers high-powered but affordable trucks."He sums up with a positive note, while speaking about the increasing competition in the market. "We have huge experience across the world and we compete successfully with the same set of players the world over. That is why we are sure about the Indian market. "