Photography: Mohd Nasir
In March this year you inaugurated your bus plant in Narasapura near
Bangalore. In 2013 you had inaugurated a
truck facility at the same place. Will this facility serve as an export hub also?
What we do today is that we
produce for India. We are rapidly ramping up our production and we are also
rapidly ramping up our indigenisation of our products. We want to indigenise
without losing quality. The buses are 100 pc localised but the chassis are
roughly 18pc localised in India. The mining trucks are typically 40pc localised
in India. Our target on the complete level of localisation is around 60 to 65pc
without losing quality. At the moment we cannot export because India is taking
all the volumes.
Are you confident of reaching your 2017 target of 2500 units of buses
and 5000 units of trucks? Today we have a capacity of 2500 trucks and 1000
buses. We have to double that by 2017-18. We need that by then. As soon as we
reach a peak in India which I hope will not take many years, then we hope to
export also. We are targeting South East Asia, Middle East and Africa out of India.
We shall export CBUs as well as knocked down units. But it will be made in
The Narasapura facility accommodates a bio gas unit that produces
alternative fuels locally. You also assemble ethanol buses. How do you foresee
the demand for these ethanol buses coming up?
We feel there is a market for
ethanol buses in India. As I speak we are participating in the Golden Jubilee
celebrations of the Association of State Road Transport Undertaking (ASRTU) and
we had the Transport Minister here and the Minister of Urban Development and
they said that India must be decarbonised. The way forward with decarbonisation
is by using bio fuels in connection with hybridisation and electrification.
That is the way to decarbonise the transport industry. I think the Indian
government has really understood that. They are on to the game and are
determined to reach the target they have set up. To reach 10pc bio fuel fleet
vehicles by 2023. This is a huge challenge. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said
why not 50pc by 2030. The Indian public, the government transport undertakings
and our customers understand that we need to decarbonise this industry.
Is demand for your haulage and mining trucks seeing an upturn? Are
things getting better in the Indian economy, especially the CV segment?
The mining industry is picking
up in India. This year has been particularly good for the mining industry with
the government giving 12 concessions on new mines. It’s been a record of sorts
since 2009. This segment will pick up very strongly. We expect another 12 this
autumn which means 24 in a year. You have not seen such a thing since the
beginning of the 21st century. But also with the infrastructure
development and the introduction of the GST, there will be improved flows in
India. We travel with a much higher speed than the local products but we are at
a disadvantage today because of all these stops at borders and inefficient
handling as a result of the existing taxation structure and bad infrastructure.
If this is solved then I see a very bright future for the on road business. The
premium segment will definitely grow and once this segment grows the economy will
What’s been the progress with your Metrolink buses? Which are the
markets in India where you have been successful with it? Also can you talk
about these buses in terms of its quality?
The Metrolink is an intercity
coach. It is doing its debut in STUs (State Transport Undertakings).We have
sold 100 of these buses to private operators. We have sold 35 to KSRTC and 35
to the MSRTC. We are now opening up to the STUs. This bus has been very much
appreciated. All our products can run on bio fuels. This is the safest bus in
the market fulfilling the rollover demands, and it’s a very modern and safe
coach running in a very environmentally friendly way. The feedback we have been
getting from the passengers in the bus is very good. Good quality bio fuel is
now available in Gujarat, bio gas and bio ethanol is available in Maharashtra,
and now more and more states are understanding the importance of producing bio
fuel from waste, either agro waste or household waste or sludge. It is a good
thing for India. We say it’s a local waste, to local fuel for local
transportation. I think it is a win, win, win! And the bus keeps moving on
Lastly, the Indian government has an ambitious plan to build
around 100 smart cities in the country and I am sure companies like Scania
would like to be part of this growth story. What is your take on it?
I think it means good business
for everyone, for Indian companies as well as foreign investments into India.
An infrastructure growth demands a lot of cement and other materials for
building. Everyone will benefit a lot from Make in India campaign.
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