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The all-new LCV called Bada Dost
The all-new LCV called Bada Dost

Ashok Leyland aims to tap new territories with all-new LCV platform

Several new LCV models, including electric vehicles, are planned on the in-house developed platform as the company looks to plug gaps in its product portfolio while covering a larger market globally

Mumbai: Ashok Leyland Ltd aims to expand its presence in the growing light commercial vehicle (LCV) market in India and other countries on the back of the all-new and modular Phoenix platform. Several new LCV models, including electric vehicles, are planned on the in-house developed platform as the company looks to plug gaps in its product portfolio while covering a larger market globally.

The company launched a new LCV range called Bada Dost in two variants – i4 and i3 in 3-3.5 ton gross vehicle weight (GVW) categories on Monday with a starting price of 7.75 lakh (ex-Mumbai). The LCVs are initially launched across 7 states and the availability will be scaled up pan-India over the next 3 months.

While the new platform will help Ashok Leyland consolidate its presence in the domestic LCV market, the company plans to build right hand (RHD) and left hand drive (LHD) variants on the same to expand its overseas footprint.

“We see LCVs as a major driver of growth not only in India but also in global markets. The new LCV will have LHD and RHD versions both and it will open up new overseas markets as well," said Vipin Sondhi, managing director and chief executive officer at Ashok Leyland told Mint in an interview.

The company, which had entered into the LCV market in 2011 with its Dost model, remained weak in this vehicle segment that also has more popular models like Tata Ace and Mahindra Bolero pick up.

According to Nitin Seth, chief operating officer, Ashok Leyland, when the company forayed into the domestic LCV market 9 years ago with Dost (and variants – Mitra and Partner), there were 42 brands to compete with in this vehicle category.

With a limited play, the company said it addressed only 34% of the domestic LCV market so far. According to Siam data, Ashok Leyland’s share in the goods carrier LCV market (upto 3.5 ton GVW) stood around only 10% over the last years.

Even as the medium and heavy commercial vehicles are witnessing muted demand on the back of pandemic-induced economic slowdown, LCVs are recording a surge in demand across rural and urban markets. The LCVs are largely used by small businessmen, farmers, and by logistics service providers for last mile delivery applications.

“The LCV market size is at 500,000 units even in this economic crisis. Almost 70% of all CVs sold in India and globally are LCVs," said Seth.

Seth said while Dost was positioned in the 2-3.5 ton GVW range, Bada Dost will cater to multiple GVW categories thereby filling gaps in the company’s product portfolio.

“Bada Dost is the first vehicle that comes on this platform, which is strategic to our growth. We plan a new vehicle on this platform every 3-4 months, both in LHD and RHD for India and global markets," said Seth, adding that the company plans to stay away from making passenger vehicles.

On adding new export markets, Seth said Ashok Leyland would penetrate new countries with left hand drive variants.

“One of the biggest challenges we have faced is that 80% of all global markets are left hand drive. Our current range of vehicles is limited as it is largely right hand drive. But the new range of LHD vehicles on the Phoenix platform will open up newer markets where we are not present today," Seth added.

In order to tap additional opportunities in the global markets with this platform, the company is also planning to develop delivery vans, said Seth.

“Vans are also being planned on this platform as globally delivery vans are a big market," he added.

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