Mumbai: India’s largest commercial vehicle maker by sales, Tata Motors Ltd, on Thursday launched six new vehicles as part of its so-called world trucks range.
The company, which has been hit by falling commercial vehicle sales in a slowing economy, is banking on the new range to change its reputation of being a maker of underpowered trucks that have low payload and fuel efficiency.
“This is a massive project that will transform the way we do trucking in India,” said Prakash M. Telang, executive director of Tata Motors.
The company is unveiling the new products after commercial vehicle sales shrank 22% to 384,122 units in the year ended 31 March from the previous year.
The new trucks are the latest bid by the company to transform itself into a global auto power. So far, Tata Motors’ efforts to expand its global footprint have met with difficulty, and it remains an Indian company. In April it sold 37,462 vehicles in India and exported just 1,261. But it hopes to eventually export the Nano, the Rs1 lakh ($2,000) car launched in India this year, to Europe and the US, and officials say they aim to sell half their new trucks outside India.
The new range, in which Tata Motors invested Rs1,000 crore, comprises multi-axle trucks, tractor trailers, tippers, mixers, and special application vehicles.
Telang said the government’s projects to improve road infrastructure in the cities and villages would boost demand for such products.
“Their ability to cover the entire country will give them an edge over the existing and the new entrants,” said Chennai-based V.G. Ramakrishnan, senior director (automotive and transportation) at consulting firm Frost and Sullivan India.
The trucks will be produced in the company’s 50-year-old facility in Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, and Gunsan in South Korea, company officials said.
The trucks range from 10 tonnes to 75 tonnes and will be in the range of 280-380 horsepower.
Tata Motors will start pilot runs for the trucks in July and launch them in the July-September quarter. Ravi Pisharody, vice-president of sales and marketing, said the company is still working on pricing.
The new models—which have been developed with its subsidiary Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Co. in South Korea and a technical centre located in Europe—are being positioned against the Mercedes-Benz Actros, and products made by Scania AB and AB Volvo in India.
AP contributed to this story.