“We are always going to be ahead of all the competition put together, in terms of our product bandwidth. We will have a product for any application, for any horsepower point, for any gearbox or transmission or engine horsepower,” says Vinod K Sahay, Head – Sales & Marketing, Medium and Heavy Trucks, Tata Motors. In a free-wheeling chat with Equipment India Vinod talks in detail about the evolution of the trucking industry and what makes Tata Motors the leader in such an intensely competitive space. Excerpts from the interview.Over a decade, the competition space has changed dramatically in the trucking industry.It’s true that competition space has changed in the last ten years quite dramatically and believe me, in the next ten years, it is going to be more intense. Our mandate is very clear. We have a dominant market position in the Indian commercial vehicle industry, more so in medium and heavy trucks where we have a 68 per cent market share. Our objective is crystal clear: it’s not just to retain the market leadership position but to grow it further. The total product configuration in Prima is close to a thousand, which has already been designed and configured on the drawing board. Depending upon the market, we will produce it, one by one. In short, we are always going to be ahead of all the competition put together, in terms of our product bandwidth. For any application, for any horsepower point, for any gearbox or transmission or engine horsepower, we will have a product.To what extent has the Prima range been able to improve the efficiency of the transport model in terms of kilometres travelled per day?In India, we are not allowed to go beyond 49 tonnes. So the only way to improve efficiency of the transport model in India is to increase the kilometre travelled per day. A 49-tonne truck doing 400 km a day v/s a 49-tonne truck doing 800 km a day can change the dynamics. That is what Prima is already doing. The transformation on tonnes has already happened, and the transformation on the kilometre is going to happen, where we have pre-empted the market by offering Prima. We are going to transform the market. We have done many transformations and we believe that is our responsibility. If we have 70 per cent market share, we need to tell our loyal customers what they should do in the future and what more they can do to increase operational efficiency. It is our responsibility to lead them to the next transformation and that is what we are doing with Prima.Given the existing road network, traffic jams, is it really true that one gets a hundred per cent addition productivity?We have seen people getting one hundred per cent additional productivity. There are customers who are using Prima and covering 800 kilometres per day in tractor application where earlier, he was not completing 400 kilometres a day. I am not saying our customers are getting such a huge increase in productivity on every route. We are monitoring the kilometres our customers are covering at the end of every month and we clearly see that anything between 30-100 per cent is the increase in productivity. Even on the least efficient route which is very congested and has a lot of toll nakas and octroi nakas, where the driver is not able to drive very fast, even there he is getting a 20-30 per cent increase in output.Brief us on the after sales support.That’s one of the core strengths of our company. We are working very aggressively to provide after sales related support. We have started this huge initiative where we are already providing support, especially for off-highway vehicles. We are already the largest as far as the highway service network is concerned but even for off-highway application; we are providing the same support to customers. What we have promised to our customer is operating economics and lifecycle value. We are providing the best lifecycle value for the product and we believe that this is not a segment where people take an emotional decision just for the brand. I believe that we are in the right direction and we should continue to rule the Indian commercial vehicle industry.Is there any shift in terms of buying patterns?If you take a closer view of the construction and mining sectors, the shift is more towards a very professional way of deciding which product can give more productivity. In construction and mining applications, tippers constitute only 15-20 per cent of the overall capital expenditure which the customer is making. So if I can give him a tipper with a higher ratio and is more reliable and is able to give a more productive output, then the efficiency of other assets also improves and he understands that very well. And another influencing factor is that contracts are awarded with both incentive and penalising clauses. From that point of view, the customers are willing to pay a higher premium and go for a product which is more reliable, which can do better productive job by having a higher ratio in the same hours allotted.Tell us about the tracking solution and its advantages.Prima trucks are already fitted with what we call a data-logger or a telematics unit. This is not just about locating a truck; it is much more than that. Because once you have an electronic engine fitted in our vehicle in the Prima range, then apart from monitoring where our truck is, our operator and his operation team will be able to monitor things like what speed the driver is driving at, which gear he is driving in, actually how much fuel has gone into the engine, etc. If the driver says that the vehicle has consumed 200 litre, the engine data tells you what is the exact usage. What a customer finally does with that data is his call. We are here to provide that data. We are going to provide all the solutions so the customer can monitor his fleet.How does it actually give control to the fleet owner?What we have also done is to facilitate his operations further. We have a key account portal. We have made a dedicated website for all our key accounts. We have given a user name and password for their entire operation team. Using that portal, he can raise a complaint if he is not happy with something. He can monitor his jobcard online from anywhere in the country. So if a customer from Bangalore has stock on its way to Delhi and it has gone to a workshop, his operation team in Bangalore can see what is happening in the truck. He can do a spare part search himself. Now we are providing our customer the opportunity to do a search and get the spares he needs from the nearest location. So we are giving the control of his business to him. We are going to increasingly put things like telematics and fleet management software into that portal.Will it be an optional or a standard feature?It is a standard feature for Prima. We are going to increasingly provide it as a standard feature in many of our existing tractor trailers. For tippers, people do not want telematics; what they need is a data logger. They need to monitor what is happening in the vehicle, the kmpl of the vehicle, the manner in which the driver is driving it, the scheduled maintenance alerts, etc. So, we are getting a very good response.How do you view the pressing issue of proper operator training?This is one of the biggest challenges we are facing. At Tata Motors, we do multiple things to address this pressing issue; in collaboration with the state governments, we are opening many private training schools. We have started in Punjab already, and there are six more institutes where the work in under progress. We are also installing stimulators in most of our own service training centers and we are going to provide simulators to large dealerships where a driver can learn some of the better driving techniques, by which he may increase kmpl of the vehicle as well as the aggregate life and ensure that the maintenance requirement is minimal.The real challenge is to go from 6-speed to 9-speed and to 12-speed manual transmission, which requires training. So for all our vehicles of the Prima range, we ensure that a good driver can be trained into operating 9-speed. We hold regular refresher programmes. So if a customer is having a hundred Tata tippers at a particular site, we keep visiting that site on a monthly or quarterly basis and organise camps for the drivers.Where do you see your company in 2015?Tata motors are fairly confident that the long-term trend is in the growth segment. We may have some quarters of ups and downs, but if you see the long-term trend in the industry for four to five years, we are certainly in the growth mode.