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Global division in place for commercial vehicles — Tata Engg eyes newer foreign markets

Sudha Menon

PUNE, July 1

THE COUNTRY'S largest commercial vehicle manufacturer Tata Engineering has its eyes trained on foreign shores and has recently set up an international division within its Commercial Vehicles Business Unit (CVBU) to exclusively work towards developing newer overseas markets and alliances for its products.

A New Generation Commercial Vehicles Programme has just been put in place to steer the company's drive into the overseas markets which will drive future growth, sources said, adding that the division will not just look at CBU exports but also the possibility of setting up assembly lines in various countries.

"The new generation commercial vehicles programme will help us to cater to the specific requirements of markets in various stages of evolution," a company spokesperson said when contacted. "Most of these vehicles will be launched only 3-4 years from now," he said.

Sources said the company's quest for overseas markets is now picking up speed. "We are looking at setting up an assembly line in Ukraine to cater to the local market and other potential markets in the region," sources said adding that a senior company executive is already at the location conducting negotiations with local dealers who will handle the assembly and distribution of the vehicles.

The company spokesperson said "There have been some interest and enquiries from Ukraine which we are now pursuing" but declined to give further details.

While sources maintain that the company is on the verge of launching a seven tonner LCV for the South African market, a company spokesperson denied that there is any such move. "We will participate in the tender for the privatisation of the public transport system in South Africa for which we will have a range of buses,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the company is working closely with its vendors on the new generation CV programme to leverage advances in technology that will significantly improve performance on various fronts. Several new models, now in the initial drawing board stage, are focusing on better technology in braking, safety, lower operating costs, better life-cycle and more stringent emission norms. A 49-tonner CV under this programme is expected to be launched by the last quarter of the current financial year. All the vehicles are likely to be built around newer, better technology engines, sources said, adding that it is actually now in talks with Tata Cummins to press its `B' series engine into its larger capacity vehicles.

Tata Engineering is expecting the commercial and passenger car business to grow at 7-8 per cent this year and has projected a 25-30 per cent growth for its CV exports this year. The golden quadrilateral and other infrastructure projects that will come up in the next couple of years are expected to spur growth in the domestic market.

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