Ashok Leyland unveils Hybus, seeks subsidies

Ashok Leyland unveils Hybus, seeks subsidies

New Delhi: Ashok Leyland Ltd, India’s second largest commercial vehicle maker, has urged the government to provide incentives to help it promote hybrid buses in the Indian market.

“We expect the government to provide financial support to make commercial production viable," managing director R. Seshasayee said at the launch of the Hybus, the country’s first bus that works on both compressed natural gas and batteries.

Ashok Leyland is betting on the technology getting cheaper but says that in the interim, the government must play a role in helping companies bring down costs.

“As a country, we need to see what China is doing," said V. Sumantran, executive vice-chairman, Hinduja Automotive Ltd, the holding company for Ashok Leyland.

“They’re massively incentivizing battery production and this will bring down costs over a period of time," Sumantran said.

The company plans to make the buses available during the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi in October to test the market for such a product.

In November, Volvo had also announced its intention to introduce hybrid buses in the Indian market by 2010.

Separately, Ashok Leyland said it was on track to launch its range of light commercial vehicles in partnership with Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

The vehicles will be made at the company’s Hosur facility in Tamil Nadu as well as an upcoming Nissan car plant.

In the second phase of the project, the company plans to start a greenfield facility. But land acquisition issues have delayed the project.

Seshasayee said the light commercial vehicle project would have a significant export component.

“Unlike heavy commercial vehicles, the smaller trucks have more in common in global markets," Seshasayee added.

Ashok Leyland launched its U-truck platform of heavy commercial vehicles and said it was looking to introduce the entire range in the next two years.

Its existing range of trucks will gradually be shifted to this platform in 18 months, the firm said.

The trucks would be exported to markets in West Asia, Africa and Latin America.