According to company chairman Dheeraj Hinduja, the heavy commercial vehicle maker is looking at exploring newer markets. Top officials of Ashok Leyland were here to mark the 75th anniversary celebrations of the city-headquartered company.
“You know our vision is clear and we have discussed it many times, that is to be a global Top 10 commercial vehicle player. Currently, we are at No 20…” Hinduja told reporters.
Elaborating, he said the company’s sales volume was growing in the Indian market and the ‘Avtar’ product developed by Ashok Leyland was a modular product, and they have been developed with a mindset to serve international markets.
“What is critical for us is to create the right network outside of India, find appropriate distributors in markets where we are currently not present,” he added. In the last 16 months, the company appointed 13 distributors in the African market with some of them having their own Assembly facility.”We are constantly looking at newer markets..” hinduja said. On the products offered by the company, Ashok Leyland Managing Director and CEO Shenu Agarwal said the country’s first hydrogen fuel bus developed by them would be commercially plying on the road by December.Regarding the Hydrogen fuel bus developed by the company for state-owned NTPC, he said, “… it is going to be the country’s first hydrogen fuel bus that would be commercially plying on the road. This is for the Leh and Ladakh region. Because of the high altitude it will undergo some testing and may be in early December we may be supplying the hydrogen fuel-operated bus to NTPC.”Referring to Hinduja’s comments that the company should be among top 10 global commercial players, MD and CEO Agarwal said, “it is a long way to go since we are in the top 20 now. With the new products that are coming up, and with the new technologies that we are investing in, we are going to expand our global footprint in a much more aggressive manner.”
Commenting on the 75th Anniversary Celebrations, Hinduja said it is a very special day as we are also launching our new IeV series. “In the last 75 years, there were many challenges and Ashok Leyland has come out stronger. As we build the future, I think (Ashok Leyland electric vehicle subsidiary) Switch will of course be a very important component for us.” he said.
Echoing similar views, Agarwal said, “It is a proud moment getting into the 75th year and as I was talking to some dealers and customers, it is the ability of the company or for any company to change with the time.. the kind of products that we are developing are really world-class and they are far away from what we have done in the last 75 years.”
To a query on whether the company would focus more on electric vehicles, Hinduja said it depends on the feedback from customers. “I would not say EV is the only focus, yes, it is the direction we are going in, but I think diesel still has quite a long way to go. We need to take into account the economic aspects and the cost factors when we look at alternate fuel,” the Chairman said refuting claims that Ashok Leyland would only focus on electric vehicles.
Asked how difficult it was to head Ashok Leyland as its Chairman, Hinduja said it was not since the Hinduja family believed in professional management.
“.. I think we have got two very senior capable CEOs (Ashok Leyland MD and CEO Shenu Agarwal and Switch Mobility CEO Mahesh Babu) who are running the companies, and we provide additional guidance where we can.”
“I think we have got a very good board of specialists who can not only support from operations perspective but from a technology perspective. So, I think, it is a combination of very good professional management team with a strong Board,” he added.