Mumbai: Tata Motors Ltd is leveraging its modular platform to build a range of commercial vehicles, a move that has helped India’s largest truck and bus maker cut costs and improve economies of scale.

The next-gen range of ultra intermediate and light CVs (ILCVs), introduced by the company on 25 April at its Pimpri plant in Pune, consists of 14 vehicles and over 50 applications, all built on the ultra platform, the development of which was in the works for over five years, according to Girish Wagh, president of the commercial vehicle (CV) division at the firm.

“Modularity is very key to commercial vehicles. This is the first time we are making such a concerted effort to use modularity on this scale (in CVs)," he said, while adding that the entire rollout is still in the works.

Greater modularity not only reduced costs but also helped the company build in “a lot of specific points of not only tonnage but also wheel bases and more so applications (and uses)", which will enable Tata Motors to address a large part of the market, according to Wagh.

Wagh also hopes to take advantage of the trend of the industry moving “clearly towards higher payload vehicles, even in small CVs", with the modular range.

With the new range of Ultra trucks, Tata “is poised very well to address a lot of requirements which are coming due to a changing economy", apart from “the micro and macro factors that will anyway lead to demand", Wagh said.

“The new range will help us cater to more uses and therefore increase our volumes and share," he said.

Modularity and commonization of platforms also help with capacity utilisation, reducing risks, improving vehicle reliability and reducing time to market.

Tata Motors has also built a bus on the Ultra platform, which is seeing “very good demand", according to Wagh.

Driving down costs is a vital part of managing director Guenter Butschek’s mid-2016 plan to turn around the domestic division of Tata Motors, which reported its first quarterly profit after five quarters in the three months ended December. Tata Motors decided to pare the number of platforms used in its passenger vehicle (PV) business as well in mid-2016 to reduce costs and inefficiencies.

With Tata’s ILCV division set up only in 2014 as the company began to take cognizance of the segment’s growing prominence in terms of volumes, Wagh expects the segment to do better than some others in the industry, clocking a low double-digit growth. In the 2018 fiscal, Tata held a market share of around 44.2%, selling over 46,500 vehicles.

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