Gagandeep Singh Gandhok, Senior Vice President, Heavy Duty Trucks, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles is very upbeat about the prospects of Eicher trucks in the Indian domestic market. Roy Punnoose Tharyan of Motown India interviewed him at the VECV plant in Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh and sought his views on the Eicher CV growth story.
Q) When you talk of heavy duty vehicles, how do you categorise them in terms of its range?
A) Basically, the heavy duty truck industry starts from 18,500 kgs i.e. around 19 tonnes and goes up to 55 tonnes. These are basically the tractor trailers. It comprises of singe axle, then multi axle vehicles, and then tractors and tippers.
Q) What are the USPs of these Eicher HD trucks?
A) The application segment in terms of transportation comprises the first mile, the middle mile and the last mile. The middle mile is where we have to carry loads long distances and where we have to do tough work, like the construction and mining segments. For this, we use the heavy duty trucks. These trucks shoulder the heavy loads which are there in the industry. The majority of the market is in the middle mile segment. The HD trucks market is the biggest market when it comes to the CV space.
The brand promises we give are best in class fuel efficiency, superior uptime and relevant modernisation. Best in class fuel efficiency is the best USP we have. Around 50 to 55 per cent of the overall operating economics of the customer or transporter is fuel. And if we make big savings in fuel, it can actually mean a lot of profitability for the customer. Similarly, these are machines; they are business and a source of employment. They are bought to make money. If they are up and running they can make more money. That is why uptime is super important and super critical. As for relevant modernisation, 100pc of our trucks are connected. So we are able to bring all the benefits like predictive diagnosis, fuel management, fleet management, trip management, which the customer used to do on trip sheets earlier. Now all this is powered by technology. All these are the corner stone of our brand promises.
Q) How critical is it to have the truck on the road all the time?
A) These are machines. It can go wrong. But the shortest possible time you can take to put it back on road, that is the effort we are making. We are further going to strengthen this. How are we doing it? We are making more proven and reliable products. We are reaching out with more service infrastructure, skilled manpower, and of course use of modern technology.
Q) You also have on site repair and service outlets for several of your clients. Can you throw some light on that?
A) This is one of the biggest learnings we have taken from our prime partner Volvo. They used to do it and they still do it. In the mining segment where tippers and dump trucks are being used at the site itself, these sites are usually at a distance from the workshop. The trucks are literally running continuously. What we do is, we put up all the spare parts that are required to put a truck back on the road, along with service engineers, the technicians, etc, at the site itself. If anything goes wrong we are at the customer doorstep to service him.
This gives extreme confidence to the customer that my machines do not have to go anywhere. The service is right at my place. One of the toughest sites we have this service is in Kargil (Ladakh). There are sites in Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), in Silchar (Assam), Korba (Chhattisgarh), etc. As of now we have close to 200 odd sites for around 150 customers manning 9000 plus trucks and buses.
Q) Coming to the Eicher Uptime Centre, are fleet operators happy with it and do you think they will continue with the services offered by this centre?
A) 100 per cent. As more and more proliferation is happening, the younger generation and professionals are getting into the business, they are actually finding it to be a very useful tool. It gives a host of services to the customers at their fingertips. They can actually see their entire fleet at the touch of a button, they can do fuel management, they can differentiate between good drivers and bad drivers, they can have all the documents updated at one place, there are various service maintenances schedules which are available, etc. The battery of people, whom they earlier maintained to do this job, is not required anymore and this work is being done by technology. With more and more usage, more and more customers are asking for integration with their own software.
Q) Can you throw some light on the new HD products you have launched?
A) We are calling these series as the “Non-Stop Series”. They will be powered by 300HP engines, especially in the multi axle and the tractor segment. Better horse power and better torque will mean less of gear changes, less fatigue to the driver and better fuel efficiency. Since we are more proved and reliable trucks, we will be more up on the road and running, ensuring profits to our customers. 100 per cent of these trucks are connected trucks. Aesthetically they continue to look the same as their siblings.
Q) What do you have to say about the performance of your HD division in terms of sales?
A) Last year when the Heavy Duty segment was around 2,40,000 units, it grew by 50 per cent as compared to the previous year. The previous year was 160,000 units. This year in the first half, it has grown by 16 per cent. The growth story is continuing. We at Eicher Heavy duty, we grew by 79 per cent last year, when the industry grew by 50 per cent. The first half of this fiscal, the industry grew by 16 per cent, while we are growing by 25 per cent. Yes, we are growing. Certain segments we reached 30 per cent market share also. In certain 300hp plus HD segment, we are already at 50 per cent market share. We are picking and choosing our battles and we are winning them. We are trying to proliferate into the mass market with the tractors and the multi axles.
Infrastructure plays a big role in the growth of CV industry. There are super highways which are there, so the number of kilometers that trucks used to clock earlier, it is now doing more and bringing more money to the customers. Customers are getting more profit out of their machines now. They are able to use their machines for a longer number of years now. The infrastructure growth and the government polices in lace are very conducive to the overall growth of any economy, which is getting reflected in our numbers as well. The technology, the profitability and services being offered by the OEMs, are also fuelling the growth story.
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