His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah has inaugurated the state-of-the-art vehicle factory of Ashok Leyland (UAE) Ltd, a joint venture between Ashok Leyland, the flagship of the Hinduja Group and the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), at Ras Al Khaimah. The function took place in the distinguished presence of His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UAE, Dr. Khater Massaad, Chief Executive Officer, RAKIA, Srichand P. Hinduja, Chairman, Hinduja Group, and other dignitaries from the Hinduja Family and senior management of Ashok Leyland.
The facility, which is UAE’s first vehicle factory, was dedicated to the people of RAK by His Highness at another event that closely followed the inauguration, where he also launched the Avia range trucks manufactured by Avia Ashok Leyland Ltd, Czech Republic. The vehicles will soon start rolling out from this facility at RAK.
“For the Hinduja Group, this event is an important step in reinforcing our presence in the Middle East”, said Srichand P. Hinduja. “The support and co-operation that we have received from His Highness and his Cabinet for getting this factory up and running has been overwhelming and it is our goal to make this a benchmark manufacturing facility in the world,” he added.
R. Seshasayee, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland, said: “This facility is an important building block in our quest to be a global player. Ashok Leyland has enjoyed a dominant position in the popular bus market of the Gulf region and therefore it was only natural for us to set up a manufacturing base closer to our customers. This facility will not only cater to the growing markets in GCC but also to African and in the event, European markets too.”
“This new facility will be a great fillip to the local economy,” said Dr. Khater Massaad, Chief Executive Officer, RAKIA. “It will provide more employment opportunities, world-class vehicles and the ‘Made-in-RAK’ tag will surely find great acceptance in the local markets which will in turn help the economy grow."
Set on over 100,000 square meters of land with a built up area of 20,000 sq. meters, the vehicle factory is a world-class facility with an initial annual capacity of 2,000 buses and trucks of international quality. There are two separate weld lines that can handle multiple models; a conveyorised paint line consisting of paint booth, baking zone and cooling zone, two conveyorised trim lines, an extremely flexible vehicle assembly line suitable for current and prospective models, supported by modern facilities to test multiple product features.
Capitalising on the built-in flexibility of the manufacturing facilities, the product range is being enlarged, with the production of trucks. In a significant move, the European brand of trucks, currently produced at Prague headquartered Avia Ashok Leyland Motors, are set to roll out from the Ras Al Khaimah plant. The D-Line series of Avia trucks will complement Ashok Leyland’s medium and heavy duty trucks, in serving the traditional markets of Africa, UAE and neighbouring regions.
The launch models for the market are the D75-140, a 7.5 tonner powered by a 140 hp engine and the D120-180 (12 tonner, 180 hp engine), with wheel base options. Noted for its stylish aero dynamic contours, its clean, modern lines were designed by European Styling House I.D.E.A and Hawtal Whiting in the UK. Both the cab and chassis designs meet and exceed the most stringent of GCC legislation. The cab qualifies for crash test requirements as per ECE 29-02. Avia cabs have the unique double zinc steel sheets with full immersion cataphoretic (ED) coating, for unbeatable corrosion protection. Avia trucks would be the first in GCC to offer brake systems as per EU standards in the 7.5 tonne category. The well equipped cab is designed for high levels of driver comfort in the sophisticated European market. The menu of features includes air conditioning, electric windows, adjustable steering wheel and air suspended seat. The cab also has an air filter to purify the air entering the cab.