Commercial Vehicle major Ashok Leyland, has launched a new ICV (Intermediate commercial vehicle) platform called the 'Partner Super'. The new platform will see the company launch three models: 914, 1014 and 1114 which weigh 9.15, 10.25 and 11.28 tonne, respectively.
Effectively, the Partner Super has allowed Ashok Leyland to bridge the gap between 9 and 11 tonne, given that it's present-day ICVs address the 11-to-14-tonne range. The company has said the truck platform is specifically built keeping applications like e-commerce, beverage transport, FMCG and whitegoods in mind. Simple by way of design, the platform comes with a tilt-able cabin providing better driver comfort, and superior payload capacity.
"Some of our critical markets like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Chennai see customers who prefer economic solutions with the need for a vehicle to run 400 kilometers per day,” said Sanjeev Kumar, Head (MHCVs), Ashok Leyland, "The Partner Super addresses these requirements and could also add 300 to 400 vehicles per month in terms of sales volumes."
After facing a lull during the years leading up to the start of the pandemic, India's Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCV) segment — ICVs are a part of this — finds itself amidst a revival. Some estimates have the segment growing rapidly in the last few years and contributing 30 percent to total industry volumes.
"The platform will help Ashok Leyland improve market share in the ICV segment," said Sanjeev, without specifying how much the company expects its market share to go up. "We presently hold 25 percent of the market share, and this platform will help us hit the targets we have set for ourselves."
For Ashok Leyland, the launch comes at a fortuitous time for its M&HCV product portfolio. The company ended the first six months of FY23 with a robust 30 percent market share in the segment — it gained an 8 percent market share between April and September.
"Government spending in infrastructure will push segments like cement, coal, and steel to better growth (in M&HCV sales)," said Sanjeev, "Macroeconomic indicators predict a positive commodity cycle and a growing e-commerce segment as well."
CNG coverage of M&HCV segment falls to 5%
At the beginning of 2022, Ashok Leyland announced a rather ambitious plan to equip a significant part of its ICV fleet with CNG technology. Today, the company confirmed that its entire ICV range is CNG-equipped, while its HCV range is being fitted with the tech.
However, Sanjeev admitted that the price-advantage prospect of CNG in heavy commercial vehicles has turned less attractive. "The price difference between CNG and diesel vehicles has come down drastically," he said, "In some states, CNG vehicles have turned more expensive than diesel vehicles. When we began rolling out CNG vehicles, our coverage of M&HCV vehicles was 13 percent of our fleet, but that has dropped to 5 percent, today."
In fact, the company said the use of CNG vehicles in M&HCVs has dropped across the country. "Widespread use of CNG vehicles is more or less limited to just NCR owing to the green tax there," Sanjeev added.