Hoshiarpur-based Sonalika Group, a debt-free and cash surplus (Rs 1000 crore
plus) company, controlled by the LD Mittal family of Punjab, there is a reason
to smile and reasons to frown. The group’s tractor business under International
Tractors Ltd (ITL) is growing by leaps and bounds. It is now the third largest
tractor manufacturer in the country after Mahindra and TAFE.
its ambitious plans to become a significant player in the SUV/MUV segment with
its Rhino vehicle have come a cropper. Well almost. Sonalika group company
International Cars & Motors Ltd (ICML) manufactures the Rhino vehicle. A
related plan to bring out a world car with Italy based design firm Pininfarina
too seems to have not got anywhere. The world car was slated to be launched
around 2012. Insiders vouch that the car
was made and was kept under wraps in the Group’s plant in Hoshiarpur. It was
never shown to the media nor was anyone allowed to take any pictures of the vehicle.
was also at one point contemplating tying up with Great Wall of China to bring
in their sports utility vehicles. That plan too seems to have been scrapped.
Several years down the line with an unsuccessful product and loads of cash
outflow, Sonalika continues to be a debt-free company with a huge cash surplus.
has not been furnishing its sales results to the Society of Indian Automobile
Manufacturers Association (SIAM) for the last several months. Sales figures for
the Rhino vehicle were recorded as “NA” in the SIAM sales chart. Also, for the
last couple of months the name of the company has stopped appearing in the SIAM
sales data. The last recorded figures of productions and sales were for the
year 2012-13 when the company produced and sold a little more than 200 units
for the entire year.
set of questions emailed to the Sonalika top management has remained
unanswered. Raman Mittal, Executive Director of ITL, however, responded briefly
to Motown India. Raman Mittal was on the
defensive and noted that the “Rhino is doing as per our expectation”. He
further admitted that a “single model is not easy business”, stating that
“there are many cars / SUVs selling less than 100 units per month”. Mittal said that the company is selling on an
average 75 units of the Rhino every month.
further stated that the company is still investing in improving the Rhino and
“will continue to do so”. As for his
plans to tie up with the Chinese company, he merely stated that “bringing
Chinese cars to India is not a straight forward process”. Mittal refrained from
commenting on the outcome of the Pininfarina project.
Picture of Rhino vehicle / File photo
Detailed report in August 2014 issue of Motown India
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