Cast Master, European firm to ink JV for ambulances

Cast Master, European firm to ink JV for ambulances

Pune: India’s fast growing ambulance market is attracting the interest of more than just local commercial vehicle manufacturers. One of Europe’s largest ambulance manufacturers is eyeing the 20,000-plus annual market in India for medical transport vehicles. The firm from the continent is close to signing a joint venture (JV) with auto component manufacturer Faridabad, Haryana-basedCast Master Enterprise India Pvt. Ltd.

The proposed JV, in which the local partner, Cast Master, will hold the majority stake, will involve the setting up of an ambulance manufacturing facility at Binola, near Manesar, Gurgaon. The plant initially would manufacture 1,000 units a year.

Rahul Jain, Cast Master’s executive director, declined to reveal the name of the European company, which is in the fray, but confirmed that a JV is in the pipeline. “We have already signed a technical agreement with it late last week but cannot tell you the name as it is awaiting approval from that board," he said. Cast Master supplies auto parts to leading Indian auto makers.

According to plans, the JV will tap the rapid growth in the ambulance market, which is being fuelled by the steep growth in the private health care industry and the large number of hospitals coming up across India. The Union government’s plan to ensure that ambulances, manned by critical-care personnel, are available every 50km of the 65,590-km national highways also is expected to drive growth in this segment.

The proposed JV will be operational by December, Jain said, adding that total initial investment in the Binola ambulance plant will be Rs10 crore. While the new ambulance manufacturing plant will seek to cater to local demand, the goal eventually will be to export the vehicles in neighbouring countries, Jain said. “The demand in the local market will keep us busy for the next couple of years," he said.

An increasing number of Indians with higher disposable income now are travelling both for work and pleasure. With the economy growing a fast clip, second only to China, the population of commercial vehicles on the highways have seen a significant upswing. Road accident fatalities have been on the rise over the past few years and the move to post ambulances and paramedics at regular intervals on the national highways is part of a project that seeks to make India’s thoroughfares safer.

In addition, the government’s Centralized Accidents and Trauma Services (CATS) also is close to finalizing plans to have at least 500 ambulances to cover the entire National Capital Region (NCR) around New Delhi. A total of 1,800 new ambulances are being acquired for the NCR and the highways safety projects.

The only organized sector player in the ambulance making business is Pune-based commercial vehicle manufacturer Force Motors Ltd.