Global marketing of extreme machines


Air suspensions for a smooth ride, hi-tech radial tires, 800-horse power engines and computer- controlled cabin are all the parts of the package which will overtake cars in a few years of time. These trucks weighting number of times than car will cruise at a speed of 160 km/hr.

Even though some Indian Companies have designed new technology of trucks for Indian road condition, Swedish Volvo is adding sophistication to the existing numbers. German truck maker MAN will launch its top of the line haulers through Pune based Force Motors later this year. Global companies like Mercedes and others are all waiting to bring in expensive models to be manufactured in developing countries like India and re-export from there. The marketing strategy is because of low cost of production these companies can export at competitive prices to developed countries. Moreover they can have penetration in this part of Asia particularly into countries like India and China.

Now, why would these global companies want to bring in their sophisticated trucks when Indians are just about getting used to buying luxury cars? Trucking companies like Volvo feel that a globalizing India will also upgrade quickly to bring itself on par with the more efficient markets. Ashok Leyland has exhibited their new range of trucks, at the Auto Expo an exhibition of international automobile products or vehicles including extreme machines in New Delhi, the capital of India earlier this year. The CEO of Ashok Leyland at the time of Auto expo inauguration has said that the goods transport sector is a weak link in Indian industry’s logistics. It is an inevitable next step for the truckling industry to upgrade its manufacturing sector if the Indian automobile manufacturers have to remain competitive globally.

TATA, Ashok Leyland, Hindusthan Motors are some of the few companies planning to manufacture extreme machines (chassis of trucks and buses) including making factory built bus bodies to be competitive in captive market where today VOLVO is having a major say.

In countries of Western Europe, the US and Japan, companies invest a lot in making trucks more reliable, efficient and comfortable to enable faster turnaround times for truckers. Regulations in these countries also ensure that these trucks travel faster without clogging heavily tolled highways are high on safety to avoid disruptive accidents. Similar changes are slowly beginning to happen in India—thanks to the golden quadrilateral project that has improved road infrastructure; more potent regulation; and most importantly, changing business economies.

The central government of India and a few other states in the country banned overloading of trucks. The law not only stopped flagging sales of commercial vehicles, it also perked sales of giant trucks. The latest numbers show a substantial jump in sales of 25-tonne and 35-tonne trucks, indicating that they have replaced grossly overloaded 9-tonners and 16-tonners on the highways.

Market forces demand the future truck will have to be high on technology and efficiency. The logic is simple as trucks carry only their stipulated load and don’t earn extra income by overloading their trucks, they will be forced to turn around their trips more quickly. In other words, they will have to make more trips to make the same amount of money or they will have to reach their destination faster and return for more. This means that trucks will have to travel faster and remain on the road longer. In order to do that, truck will have to sport high-technology radials, like the Volvos.

Market demands of near future call for the trucks to carry higher loads at greater speed. The manufacturer has to be innovative to achieve this. Improvements like better power-to-weight ratio will demand powerful engines and incorporation of instruments relating to Global Positioning system in driver’s cabin must be considered on war footing. The improvements are compelling on the part of manufacturer if the company wants to enhance the demand of their heavy trucks. Air conditioning of driver’s cabin may also go in favor of the truck because of the drivers’ opinion.

Some initiative in the right direction is already taken by some leading manufacturers. Volvo makes its own engines. Tata Trucks are expected to use Daewoo engines while Ashok Leyland has sourced engine technology from Japanese truck maker Hino.

Lastly to reduce driver fatigue, they will need a lot more comfort than in passengers’ cars. A Transport company director currently owning Volvo trucks said that their customers appreciate that the company is able to provide them high value for their money by ensuring quicker turnaround times.

If the road infrastructure improves at the same speed as that of extreme machines technology like GPS scanners at regular intervals on the express highway, help line telephones, proper security arrangements and so on then there is ample scope for trade by road from Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afganisthan, Iran and some CIS countries. If so imagine the potential for requirements of heavy 40 to 50 ton trucks. We are confident that the manufacturers are alert to these facts and gearing up themselves.

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