Commercial vehicle OEMs - domestic and global - have pumped in investments, augmented capacities, launched global platform strategies, enhanced touch points, and stressed on soft solutions to suit the demands of emerging markets. They are ready for a long haul and the strong impetus on infrastructure is expected to rekindle the demand for medium and heavy-duty (M&HD) trucks that have been declining for almost three years. On a long term, it is reported that India could oust the US from the Number 2 spot by the end of the decade. EQUIPMENT INDIA trains the spotlight on the fast changing market scenario.
The global truck manufacturing industry is on the cusp of a major change, and no wonder, the war between global truck makers has already shifted to other regional battlegrounds such as India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand. As per reports, more number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), especially from China, is eyeing the Indian market. Improving infrastructure, rising urbanisation, and a more professional logistics sector is expected to create demand for bigger and more sophisticated trucks alongside the traditional low-price segment.
As per the inputs from Frost & Sullivan, global heavy commercial vehicle industry is expected to register a growth of approximately 3.6 per cent this year, whereas Indian commercial vehicle industry is expected to decline marginally by about 3 per cent in this calendar year. Indian medium and heavy commercial vehicle market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6-7 per cent for the period between 2015 and 2020 (2014 as base year).
In India, the market for heavy-duty trucks in 2013 has declined by 33 per cent to 131,700 trucks (195,100 in 2012) and medium-duty trucks declined by 19 per cent to 76,300 trucks (94,200). For 2014, the total market in India is expected to reach a level of about 145,000 heavy-duty trucks and about 88,000 for medium-duty trucks. The sales have improved in June 2014, and the strong impetus on infrastructure is expected to rekindle demand for medium and heavy-duty trucks that have been declining for almost three years. On a long term, it is reported that India could oust the US from the Number 2 spot by the end of the decade.
´The heavy-duty truck business is expected to grow up to 8 per cent by 2020, while infrastructure spending is targeted to double up to $1 trillion by 2017,´ says Anders Grundstromer, Managing Director, Scania India, and Senior Vice President, Scania Group. He adds, ´The current demand for trucks is about 130,000 units and it is expected to grow up to 300,000 in next 5-10 years. The small-scale mining is expanding in India and this has created room for opportunity. As a result, mine operators are increasingly investing in trucks instead of the larger, more capital-intensive transport vehicles that are traditionally used. The total industry volume in premium segment tipper and on-road haulage business is expected to grow at a rate of 20-30 per cent annually.´
As per inputs from VECV, as an industry, the cyclical nature of the commercial vehicle (CV) business and the recent downturn have led to poor utilisation of trucks and has hit transporters profitability. While there is progress in the road infrastructure, delays and poor quality of roads still continue to pose a challenge for delivering optimum vehicle performance. There is also continued pressure on availability of skilled drivers, which comes in the way of industry adopting high technology products faster. Availability of quality fuel can also be a deterrent in delivering best vehicle performance. Despite government regulations, prevalent overloading in certain segments continues to be an industry concern.´
Changing market structure
The Indian trucking industry is fast changing. Concepts such as Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and gradually maturing logistics model of hub and spokes are redefining the truck industry in India. There has also been a change in the market structure, which has hitherto been duopolistic. According to Frost & Sullivan, the market structure is definitely changing and market share of dominant leaders are expected to dilute slightly further. However in a short run, we do not see major changes happening as far as market dominance of Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland is considered. In longer share of pie, medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCV) segment is expected to shift a bit towards VECV and BharatBenz; however, we do not see a big change happening in a short run. (Share of Tata Motors in M&HCV segment has dipped from 64 per cent in 2006-07 to 56 per cent in 2012-13).
The stringent emission norms have a telling impact on the OEMs and the end-user segment. According to Frost & Sullivan, implementation of stringent emission norms will result in increase of vehicle cost. Implementation of Euro-IV and Euro-V norms would compel manufacturers to adopt high-end technologies like advance exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which will result in increase of vehicle cost. Manufacturers are now working towards developing global truck platforms, thereby concentrating on reducing regional distinct platforms. In India as well, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Volvo and Daimler are concentrating on developing global truck platforms.
The engines powering Tata´s M&HCV range from trucks and tippers on Prima and non-Prima platforms range from 130 hp to 380 hp. The higher hp nodes help achieve faster turnaround time, thereby increasing the productivity. New technologies like common rail direct injection (CRDI) in trucks are also proving to be more fuel-efficient. Says Vinod Sahay, Head - Sales and Marketing, Medium & Heavy Trucks, Tata Motors, ´The powertrain couples perfectly with these engines to provide best-in-class output in terms of fuel efficiency and optimum torque at wheel at different gears. The oil drain interval on TML 9-Speed gearbox G-1150 has recently been upgraded to 120,000 km/4,000 hr, which is the best in this segment, endorsing the confidence we have on the performance and longevity of our products and their aggregates.´
What is the scope for hybrid and electric powertrain modules and systems in the Indian market? Says Sahay, ´The shift of powertrains to new technologies like hybrid and electric systems in CVs have been slow globally. Nevertheless, Tata Motors is committed to positively contributing to the greener and environment-friendly technologies.´
At the recently concluded Auto Expo, Tata Motors showcased Tata Prima 4032.S LNG. Its green fuel is a first for the Indian market - with an alternative to diesel and CNG power, providing benefits of lower carbon emissions and better fuel economy. Tata Prima 4032.S LNG offers lower operating costs to operators, while lowering emissions significantly. Best suited for those who drive long leads, the Prima 4032.S LNG is fitted with an electronically-controlled Cummins ISLG 320 hp LNG engine, which delivers superior driveability, owing to a flat torque curve. To ensure safety, the LNG tank of the vehicle is extremely strong and can withstand a collision, with LNG being stored at low pressures of about 150 psi as compared to CNG cylinders at about 3,600 psi.
Says Grundstromer, ´The global engine programme from Scania comprises a full range of engines adapted for heavy vehicles in different segments all over the world. We are known for our market leading engine technology, from advanced fuel injection to cleaner combustion, and innovative after-treatment systems. With regards to overall economy, environmental impact and service life, Scania engines continue to excel on all fronts.´
He further adds, ´We are still pushing hard on alternative fuels and not least biofuels. The three globally viable biofuels are bioethanol, biogas and biodiesel. All these fuels are good alternatives to minimise oil dependency and bring down carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The Scania engine strategy still has a basis in the modular system in which common interfaces and similar parts make the lifecycle cost very competitive for our customers.´
Speaking about the global trends in powertrains, Grundstromer also reasons why the latest hybrids and electrical powertrains will take very long time to be accepted in India. He says, ´The trends globally are still focused not only on fuel efficiency, but also on reduction of CO2 and other emissions such as NOx levels. Keeping lowest possible fuel consumption and adapting to the toughest emission levels simultaneously is a challenge. Hybrids and electrical powertrains will definitely come to India, but we believe it won´t be viable for few years to come. This is due to two major factors: the total cost of the hybrid powertrains has to be competitive on its own merits. Still the service and maintenance costs are uncertain, and most hybrids in, for instance city bus traffic in the West, has government subsidies of one kind or the other.´
He adds, ´One of the main reasons for pushing for hybrid and electrical powertrains is to reduce CO2 emissions. If the electrical power is taken from the grid such as in the case of plug-in hybrids, then it is vital that the electricity is produced from renewable power. Since this is not the case with the Indian electricity, which generally is produced out of coal, it is not a sustainable option.´
Eicher PRO HD trucks offer best-in-class efficiency, superior uptime and faster turnaround time. This is delivered by the combination of a powerful engine and a robust powertrain. The next-generation latest global technology engines - VEDX5 and VEDX8 - are designed and developed on Volvo Group platform and are manufactured in state-of-the-art manufacturing plant of VE Powertrain. The high-power engine performance is coupled with an optimised driveline, which ensures right torque for all kinds of roads. Advanced high-strength and lightweight materials are used for driveline, which gives dual benefit of high reliability and fuel efficiency. VECV is also introducing first-in-segment features such as fuel coaching (real time guidance to drive at the most fuel-efficient rpm and gear ratio) and cruise control, which comes together to deliver better fuel efficiency.
According to Sahay, the market is shifting towards more sophistication, better ergonomics and higher driver comfort and safety in the cabin. He says, ´We have been pioneer in introducing a world-class cabin on our Prima range of trucks and tippers. The Prima cabin is world-class boasting a new-age cab design, which offers space, an air-conditioned cabin including pneumatically reclining seats, adjustable steering wheels and arm rests for driver comfort. The Prima has sleepers too, to facilitate long-distance travel. These features are designed to induce longer and more trips. Global Positioning System (GPS) for vehicle tracking is a standard fitment as well.´
Sahay further adds, ´We have also planned to launch a new cabin for our existing range of vehicles in the near future. This cabin will not only change the face of Indian trucking, but also take driver comfort and safety to new levels.´
Says Grundstromer, ´Our focus while designing and manufacturing driver cabins is to maximise driver comfort and minimise fatigue. All our products maintain uniform global standards in terms of maintaining safety and comfort for the driver.´
Cabin design is a very important aspect of building HD trucks, with focus on ergonomics, driver safety and driver comfort. Eicher PRO range of HD trucks come with new-generation ergonomically designed spacious cabins with state-of-the-art features like six-way adjustable driver seat, three-point ELR seat belt, etc. Eicher HD trucks are equipped with robotic welded cabin frame structure. The cabin is double-panelled for safety and fully suspended for better ride comfort and is tiltable for easier access during periodic maintenance.
Shift in sales patterns
Over the years, as the trucking industry has been gradually developing, the sales patterns also witnessed new trends. From transaction model to relational model, the sales pattern has been undergoing a sea change. This has had a telling impact on OEMs´ sales strategies and product placement strategies. Tata Motors has been in the Indian CV space for over 60 years and it has developed a deep understanding of the Indian market. With the widest portfolio of CVs to cater to the requirements of every kind of customer, Tata Motors has developed a pan-India sales and service network, which is growing in terms of touch points, with enhanced experience levels.
Says Sahay, ´In terms of products and customer experience, we are in the process of developing multiple new platforms in terms of products and customer engagement initiatives, which are in line with market requirements, and are also continuously working towards the improvement of performance and reliability of our existing offerings. Furthermore, we have equipped our sales team to act as a consultant to our customers. Their role includes understanding the customer´s business needs, providing a right solution with a mix of product and services and ensuring proper handholding till commissioning of those vehicles.´ He adds, ´Given our scale, we are in the best position to efficiently integrate our products and services to deliver maximum value to our customers, at the lowest cost.´
According to Grundstromer, this market development is just in line with Scania´s overall business model. He says, ´We strive for solution sales and having a closer relationship with our customers, offering not only products, but also services of all kinds. The joint offering of products and services ranging from workshop repair and maintenance to financial services tailor-made for different industries and customers, makes us a solution provider. And as a solution provider, the relational model is the only logical business model.´
He further adds, ´We are planning to establish more dealerships and set up strong network support, especially in the North-western region starting from Nagpur, Surat, Jaipur, Delhi and Agra. Depending on the customer spread and their locations, the service network will be set up. These networks will be either a combination of Scania-owned and private service or exclusively private dealer network. We also run service vans to guarantee service support to customers within two hours of fault reporting. These vans are strategically placed in the routes where frequency of the vehicle travel is high.´
As in most other industries, the CV industry has also evolved over time to a more relationship-based approach. At Eicher, we have always believed in providing solutions, and not merely selling products to our customers. We have dedicated sales teams and key account management teams focusing on the needs of our diverse customer set. We cover our customers end-to-end from products (heavy-duty trucks from 16 to 40 tonne and tippers from 16 to 25 tonne) to service networks (more than 270 Eicher authorised service centres, dedicated Eicher container set-ups) to unique maintenance and service solutions (cashless insurance, Eicher Promise, special AMC packages, etc). Eicher has a dedicated team of qualified and experienced trainers delivering driver training programmes at customer premises. We have a wide sales and service network across India with over 270 touch points and more than 250 fully equipped mobile service vans. With Eicher genuine parts shopes, customers are assured of Eicher genuine spares availability at 140 locations (and counting) across India, according to a company source.
TCO - the game changer
TCO is an important concept and something that is a key decision criterion for CV owners. There are various factors which impact TCO, which include both product-based as well as soft technologies-based solutions. On the soft technologies part, Eicher is re-defining norms in the CV industry. Our new PRO range of heavy-duty trucks comes equipped with advanced onboard diagnostics as well as Eicher Live (advanced vehicle tracking system), which ensure maximum vehicle uptime, as per the source.
´At Scania, we are actually using the concept - Total Operating Economy (TOE) - to describe our offerings in all segments. By using this concept, we can show that Scania´s market leading fuel efficiency and the uptime of our vehicles lead to unbeatable low operating costs and highest possible productivity. Together with high residual values, this makes our offerings very competitive and attractive,ö explains Grundstromer.
Says Sahay, ´In our constant endeavour to minimise TCO, along with providing customers with unmatched service quality, we at Tata Motors believe that a superior product alone is not enough for successful completion of projects, hence we support our customers through innovative customised offerings. We provide various offerings including 24x7 on-site support service through mobile service vans, along with extensive driver and mechanic training. We also ensure quick services from our widest service network of our dealers and Tata Authorised Service Stations (TASS) across India.´
According to a recent Frost & Sullivan Market Insight, ´Overview of the Global Medium-Heavy Duty Truck Market in 2014´, with a change in truck sale models from transactional to relational formats, the market is expected to see a rise in investments in multiplexing technologies that facilitate the integration of soft technologies in trucks. Soft technologies and service/maintenance-based solutions will drive greater revenue opportunities for truck makers in future. Connectivity enabled through telematics is fast emerging as a major focus for OEMs in differentiating their trucks from competitors. This along with driver wellness and well-being focused technologies will create foundations for long-term structural changes in truck design and development.
Says Grundstromer, ´The Indian market is receiving and responding well to new age technologies. We see this in our offering of Scania Fleet Management Service, which is an integrated part of Scania´s comprehensive global service offering, supporting the driver, as well as managing the transport operation and the vehicle fleet.´ He adds, ´The Fleet Management Service offers customers the possibility to monitor, analyse and control their fleet operations leading to maximised uptime and enhanced road safety. This is a major benefit for operators running all kind of transport operations. It comprises a number of independent services that can be combined to suit individual operators´ needs and can be installed in all Scania haulage trucks and buses.´
Increasingly, customers are getting more cognizant of the value delivered to their business through soft technologies and service/maintenance solutions. Especially, large fleet operators who operate in complex and very competitive market places, greatly value maximised uptime of their fleet. ´We are increasingly partnering with these large customers to offer unique solutions such as AMC, insurance packages, driver training and customised solutions,´ as per the input from Eicher. According to Sahay, the Indian commercial vehicle customer has evolved over the last few decades with his focus shifting from just plying and maintaining his trucks, to expanding and seeing his business become profitable. Hence, there has been a definite shift in the market towards adopting new technologies and fleet management services. We have addressed this business need in the market, through the introduction several services.
The road ahead
Sahay sums up on a high note. ´Faster economic growth coupled with the government´s policies is likely to drive volumes and revive the Indian automobile sector. Even micro segments within the industry, like coal, mining and infrastructure, will see a spurt in demand and thereby add to the overall growth of the sector in the long term. A fall in interest rates and stable fuel prices are expected to create an environment conducive for growth in this industry. Many foreign companies have also started to show their presence in India leading to a very competitive automobile market in the country, which augurs well for the sector´s growth.´ The OEMs have geared up for the long haul. Now, what the trucking industry waiting for is proactive policies that can kickstart the growth momentum.
- Agith G Antony with
inputs from Sudheer Vathiyath
Tata Motors - Price Tag
The product offerings from Tata Motors ranges from Rs 12.7 lakh to 35 lakh in standard trucks and tippers for price and payback sensitive segment. The Prima range caters to high performance sensitive customer at a price range of Rs 23 lakh to 65 lakh. The recently launched Prima LX range is at a price range of Rs19 lakh to 45 lakh and is devised to meet the requirement of the customers with a balanced perspective.
´We plan to add 100 more trucks by the end of this fiscal.´
We expect technologies like GPS systems to be introduced with the trucks, which can help us monitor the vehicle operations at sites from the office. We are also keen to have more features that can boost the operational safety, says Rakshak Singhvi, Head - Purchase, Sadbhav Engineering. Excerpts from the interview.
In terms of value and units, what is your asset base for trucks including heavy-duty trucks?
We have about 400 units valued at about Rs 300 crore from Volvo and Scania.
What are the factors that determine your purchase?
Aftersales service support is the most important factor we look at. We also consider the warranty period and related schemes. Basically, the technology features and parameters are same for a particular range irrespective of the brands. We consider the brand, which can give us the best fuel economy, productivity and overall operational efficiency.
From transaction model to relational model, the sales pattern has been undergoing a lot of changes. In terms of pricing, solutions, etc, how has this helped you take advantage from OEMs?
The warranty schemes and better after-sales service from OEMs are the major benefits we are getting now, which is a change in sales pattern. This trend is really beneficial for us.
How do you address the challenges faced by highly skilled drivers?
We provide necessary training to our drivers to effectively address the various aspects of operational efficiency. These trainings help them attain a level of highly skilled drivers from skilled drivers. Availability of skilled drivers is not a problem. We can convert them into highly skilled drivers through our training programmes we conduct twice or thrice in a year.
How far cost plays a role in choosing the brand vis-a-vis technology?
Cost is a factor in choosing the brand, but the important thing is the productivity of the unit and aftersales service provided by the OEMs.
Best aftersales service, guarantee on the product life, economical operations, etc, play vital roles. We don’t mind buying a relatively costlier product if at all it gives a better productivity, overall operational efficiency and good aftersales service.
In terms of cost and technology, how do you compare the heavy-duty trucks produced by Indian manufacturers with that of global manufacturers?
In the mining sector, most of the heavy-duty trucks in the current market are foreign brands. Indian brands are just entering the heavy-duty market now.
Foreign brands - with their good exposure in the global market and better technology on offer - make better choice over the Indian brands. But we are open to Indian brands in future provided they introduce products of the heavy-duty class with good productivity and aftersales service.
Has the economic slowdown impacted your sales performance?
Yes, it did affect our sales in the tipper segment, but we have rapidly developed some unique trailers like the canopy trailers, at economical price. Hence, we have managed to put enough load on our factory and reduce the idle time. Brief us on the core strength and competencies of your company.
Our core strength is that we develop products and their market at a comparatively shorter period than our competitors.
What are the major products and services you offer?
Our major products are tippers, trailers, dumpers, trolleys, porta cabins, tip trailers, etc. We are also involved in sheet metal and fabrication works.
What is your geographical spread?
We market tippers locally in Jharkhand, while trailers and other products pan-India basis.
What are the technology trends in the truck body and final assembly concepts? We are doing research to make the vehicle lighter, hence increasing the pay load.
What are the major challenges that you face?
The market is down and we are working hard to keep the wheels rolling successfully.
What was the company´s performance in the last couple of years?
We are growing at a steady pace and will be opening our branch at the Western part of India soon.
What are your future plans?
We have already entered into real estate and are on the verge of opening a steel trading company.
Eicher offers heavy-duty tippers in 4x2, 6x4 and 8x4 configurations in customised load body platforms. These tippers come in power ranging from 147 to 280 hp and with 6 speed as well as 9 speed transmission for heavy-duty mining applications. For special applications, Eicher provides rock body tippers and flat bed trailers.