Both M&M and Ashok Leyland are investing in their heavies range even as large fleet operators go slow on expansion due to a significant inventory pile-up during the slowdown months
The commercial vehicle industry has seen a realignment in the past 12 months due to a sharp drop in sales in the medium and heavy truck range and a smart uptick in the pick-up range in both load and passenger carriers. As a result, M&M has replaced Ashok Leyland as the second largest commercial vehicle company after Tata MotorsBSE 0.07 %. Since the medium and heavy trucks are dependent on the economic climate for their sales growth, the industry isn't expecting any miracles right away. Yet both M&M and Ashok Leyland are investing in their heavies range even as large fleet operators go slow on expansion due to a significant inventory pile-up during the slowdown months.
Consider the stats. M&M's April-February tally (including Navistar range as well as Maxximo, Gio, Genio and Bolero pick-up) stands at 1,67,588 units as per SIAM data. ALL's April-February sales, including the Dost LCV, stand at 1,00,592 units. Both do not include exports. Understandably, ALL says it's still the number two player in medium and heavy commercial vehicles. "Ashok Leyland is still the second largest with a market share of 26.1%" in that segment," said the company spokesman. ALL does not include Dost - which comprises 30,592 units in the April-February period - in its sales tally because it is a JV product. "Dost has already achieved leadership position in most markets where it operates," added the ALL spokesman.
India's medium and heavy commercial vehicle range has seen a sharp drop in the current fiscal. Total CV sales dropped 22% in the April-February period with the 25.2-31.2 tonne multi-axle vehicle and 30-49 tonner multi-axle trailers showing the highest drop in sales. Sales in those two segments fell around 27% each. In February alone, the 30-49 tonner segment saw sales slump 42.2% while the MAV segment was down over 38%.
Yet both M&M, which has managed to get into the CV big league thanks to its pick-up numbers, as well Ashok Leyland are betting big on the M&HCV range. "M&M is now present in virtually all segments of commercial vehicles, which includes three-wheelers, small CVs, pick-ups, LCV and HCV," said Pawan Goenka, president, auto & FES division, M&M. "We have plans to continue to launch new products or major product refreshes in all segments. The slowdown in the medium and heavy commercial segment is temporary we feel and if anything our focus on medium and heavy commercial vehicle will get stronger. We will focus on growing our presence in all key markets in this segment," he added.
Ditto for ALL, which says its focus, going forward, "will be on expanding and enhancing the M&HCV range while, at the same time, work with JV partner, Nissan Motor Company, to enhance the LCV portfolio," said the company spokesman. "The pace of new product investment has been accelerated to help customers maintain or improve profitability, as they deal with rising fuel costs."
Yet no one in the CV business expects things to improve any time soon. "The CV Market is very much linked to the GDP," said the ALL spokesman. "The entire CV industry hopes for some government-initiated stimuli to give the economy a badly needed fillip and thereby improve overall sentiments," he added. Currently, the CV industry is facing a glut in the market with inventory pile up and high discounts. "Several commercial vehicle manufacturers have pushed their inventories to their dealers by increasing the vehicle stocks significantly," said SP Singh, senior fellow, Indian Foundation of Transport Research & Training. As a result, new truck sales have shown negative growth for more than six months in a row.