Technology, not price, key differentiator for truck makers in BS IV regime

Truck manufacturers are attracting customers with better technology, features in BS IV-compliant trucks


Overloaded and underpowered trucks spewing black smoke could soon become a thing of the past. Photo: AP
Overloaded and underpowered trucks spewing black smoke could soon become a thing of the past. Photo: AP

Mumbai: Overloaded and underpowered trucks spewing black smoke could soon become a thing of the past as with the new emission norms kicking in, technology begins to replace price as the most important consideration for buyers, and truck makers race to woo customers with added features.

The switch to stricter emission norms—from Bharat Stage (BS) III to IV—has served as an inflection point. Even as other industry segments made the transition quietly, truck makers are introducing the new range of BS IV vehicles with much fanfare. From branding their emission technology, using attractive tag lines and equipping trucks with sophisticated features so far seen only in personal vehicles, to offering convenient after-sales service, truck makers are leaving little to chance.

Last week truck and bus market leader Tata Motors Ltd announced that the company was ready with its range of BS IV-compliant vehicles.

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“Apart from making the vehicles compliant with new emission standards, we have made significant improvements in various areas across the range,” said Girish Wagh, product line head, medium and heavy commercial vehicles at Tata Motors.

An average transporter, Wagh said, doesn’t care about emission or environment. Therefore, if he is paying more, he should get value. Hence it was inevitable that improvements in overall performance including fuel efficiency, drivability and comfort would also need to be offered, he explained.

Sudarshan Shrinivas, director, corporate, India Ratings and Research Ltd, said that with a slew of regulations coming into effect, truck makers can no longer use just the price as a differentiating factor, even though what eventually matters to a owner is return on investment. On an average, prices of heavy duty trucks have gone up by up to Rs200,000, he added.

Last Tuesday, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV) launched its range of vehicles complying with the new standards. Branding the range i3-EGR, the company claimed that the technology is innovative, contemporary and efficient and that the new engine offers advanced features such as fuel coaching and cruise control at a competitive price.

Truck makers are meeting BS IV norms using either the exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) technology or selective catalytic reduction (SCR). EGR works by re-circulating a portion of an engine’s exhaust gas back into an engine’s cylinders. SCR is a process that uses a catalyst to convert oxides of nitrogen in exhaust gases to nitrogen and water, which are released into the air.

On 21 April, Hinduja group flagship Ashok Leyland Ltd launched a series of trucks based on the iEGR technology which would help it meet BS IV emission standards.

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Earlier, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, which sells the Bharat Benz brand of trucks, launched its new range on 7 April with the theme ‘profit technology’. The range is designed to deliver the “best-in-class package” of productivity, efficiency and safety, it claimed.

Ashok Leyland uses EGR technology across its range of trucks while Tata Motors uses it for trucks with a lower output and SCR for its higher output ones.

“The price differentiation between all the companies has narrowed drastically after the new emission (norms) have come into effect, Therefore, the battles can no more be fought on the basis of price,” said S.P. Singh, senior fellow at Indian Foundation of Transport Research & Training.

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