Ashok Ley­land: Meet­ing BSIV with iEGR

Ashok Ley­land has de­vel­oped iEGR for its CVs to com­ply with BSIV emis­sion reg­u­la­tions.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Ashok Ley­land has de­vel­oped iEGR for its CVs to com­ply with BSIV emis­sion reg­u­la­tions.

Ashok Ley­land achieved the feat of com­ply­ing with BSIII emis­sion reg­u­la­tions when they were en­forced in 2010 with an in-line me­chan­i­cal fuel pump. The fuel gov­ern­ing sys­tem of the en­gine was suit­ably tweaked. To meet the BSIV emis­sion norms that came into force pan-In­dia from April 01, 2017, the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer has taken the Ex­haust Gas Re­cir­cu­la­tion (EGR) route. It has de­vel­oped what it would like to term as in­tel­li­gent En­gine Gas Re­cir­cu­la­tion (iEGR). Rather than adapt a Se­lec­tive Cat­alytic Re­duc­tion (SCR) sys­tem, the com­pany chose to tweak the en­gine com­bus­tion man­age­ment sys­tem and EGR of both its en­gine fam­i­lies – H and N, that range be­tween 130 hp and 400 hp. An­nounced Vinod K. Dasari, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and CEO, Ashok Ley­land, that the tech­nol­ogy was de­vel­oped over four years, and with the view of elim­i­nat­ing chal­lenges per­tain­ing to SCR sys­tem in terms of weight and op­er­a­tional costs. Claim­ing that his were the only com­pany in the world to com­ply with BSIII emis­sion norms us­ing a me­chan­i­cal pump, Dasari men­tioned, “Bet­ter fuel

ef­fi­ciency (of up to 10 per cent), and re­li­a­bil­ity from the ab­sence of SCR as­so­ci­ated elec­tron­ics are the two out­comes of the iEGR en­deav­our.” With the elim­i­na­tion of POC, and ad­di­tional sen­sors, the BSIV trucks, the com­pany of­fers, prom­ise to de­liver higher pay­load be­cause of the weight saved. Stat­ing that they have been of­fer­ing SCR since 2010, and came to con­clude that it is use­ful in long runs at con­stant speeds, Dasari averred, “In­dia is a value con­scious mar­ket.” What makes iEGR in­ter­est­ing is the low ac­qui­si­tion cost of the ve­hi­cle as com­pared to the one that is equipped with a SCR sys­tem.

Im­pact of SC or­der

Like other In­dian au­tomak­ers, Ashok Ley­land was also af­fected by the Apex Court’s or­der to stop sell­ing BSIII ve­hi­cles be­gin­ning April 01, 2017. Not the one to push in­ven­tory on to its deal­ers, the com­pany, ac­cord­ing to Dasari, was left with 10,664 BSIII CVs.

“It was panic”. “The suc­cess­ful devel­op­ment of iEGR over the last four years helped us to re­tain our con­fi­dence,” said Dasari. A de­ci­sion to swap the BSIII en­gines in BSIII CVs was taken. The en­gines taken out will be sold in the af­ter­mar­ket, men­tioned Dasari. He claimed that no ma­jor fi­nan­cial im­pact was had, and even though the devel­op­ment was painful. “It is a pain, not fun, but we will get over it,” averred Dasari. Till date, 220 BSIII CVs have been con­verted to BSIV. The cost of swap­ping the en­gine per ve­hi­cle is roughly Rs.20,000. The BSIII en­gine costs Rs.1.4 lakh ac­cord­ing to Dasari. In the af­ter­mar­ket, it is ex­pected to fetch a price of Rs.2.2 lakh. Ashok Ley­land ve­hi­cles, ex­pressed Dasari, are vir­tu­ally sold on cash and carry ba­sis.

Risk aver­sion

An en­deav­our to in­vade new mar­kets over­seas has proved to be of much use to Ashok Ley­land in its ef­fort to averse risk. With the In­dian mar­ket show­ing signs of much cyclic­ity off late, the com­pany, which ac­cord­ing to Dasari, is the ninth largest truck maker and fourth largest bus maker in the world, is look­ing at in­creas­ing its ex­port thrust. Said Ra­jive Sa­haria, Pres­i­dent – Global Sales and Dis­tri­bu­tion, that the com­pany is keen to ex­port one CV for ev­ery two CVs sold in the do­mes­tic mar­ket. Ex­pressed

T Venkatara­man, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent – Global Bus, that the do­mes­tic and ex­port sales ra­tio as far as buses are con­cerned is 58:42. Buses are ex­ported, he averred, to the Mid­dle East, SAARC, and African mar­kets. Stress­ing upon the next quar­ter look­ing tough, Venkatara­man ex­pressed, “We are sup­ply­ing Euro 5 ve­hi­cles to Ukraine, and are go­ing to Latin Amer­ica.” Quipped Sa­haria, that more trucks were sold over­seas last year than buses. “Close to 60 per cent of ex­port sales was through trucks,” an­nounced Sa­haria. The com­pany is look­ing for­ward to ex­port LCVs. When it does, the ex­er­cise would help it to inch closer to the tar­get of ex­port­ing one CV for ev­ery two CVs sold in In­dia. Apart from the Mid­dle East, SAARC and African mar­kets, Ashok Ley­land is look­ing at Russia and Ukraine too. In an ef­fort to ar­rive at stream­lined man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses and higher ef­fi­ciency, Ashok Ley­land has repli­cated the Ras Al Khaimah plant at Bangladesh. A 200 to 300 unit mar­ket will make an at­trac­tive ex­port mar­ket (in Bangladesh) ac­cord­ing to Sa­haria.

If Bangladesh is the largest truck ex­port mar­ket for Ashok Ley­land, the com­pany has be­gan ex­port­ing the Boss to Russia. Said Sa­haria, “Sup­ply of bus kits to Ukraine is on, and lo­cal con­vert­ers are build­ing bod­ies on them.” Ashok Ley­land’s strat­egy to averse risk and grow faster than the in­dus­try re­flects from its de­ci­sion to exit some of the STU busi­nesses. This, for a lead­ing bus player in the coun­try was not an easy task. Said Dasari, “We ex­ited some STU busi­nesses for low prof­itabil­ity.” In its quest to put the Dol­lar where the re­turns are, Ashok Ley­land made it a point to con­cen­trate on in­no­va­tive prod­ucts. The re­sult of this is the in­tro­duc­tion of Cap­tain, Guru, Cir­cuit elec­tric bus, Sun­shine school bus with roll-over pro­tec­tion, and the Oys­ter (safest) school bus in the Gulf. Due to its growth po­ten­tial, Ashok Ley­land paid at­ten­tion to the coal tip­per and con­struc­tion truck mar­ket.

Tap­ping growth

Sell­ing over 200 Guru ICVs till date, Ashok Ley­land wit­nessed good up­take in 10x2 and 8x2 min­ing tip­pers and con­struc­tion trucks. It sold over 1500 units ac­cord­ing to Dasari. The share of Ashok Ley­land’s min­ing tip­per and con­struc­tion truck mar­ket, claimed Dasari, grew by 50 per cent over the in­dus­try av­er­age of 30 per cent. From the time it was launched, the com­pany has sold over 3000 Sun­shine school buses. There is a wait­ing list of 500 ve­hi­cles. De­spite a sin­gle prod­uct (Dost), Ashok Ley­land’s LCV port­fo­lio, said Dasari, wit­nessed a growth of 4 per cent. Ex­pressed Nitin Seth, Pres­i­dent, LCV and De­fence, “We are now look­ing at run­ning faster. We will launch the pas­sen­ger ver­sion of Dost fol­lowed by the big­ger ver­sion of Dost called the Dost+. An eight-me­tre long bus on the Mitr plat­form will be in­tro­duced. We will also ad­dress the de­mand for 32-seater school bus and a CNG ve­hi­cle. These

would be de­vel­oped in left-hand drive vari­ants as well by keep­ing in mind the ex­port mar­kets.” Ashok Ley­land is keen to tap world’s 80 per cent LCV mar­ket that is left­hand drive ori­ented. To cater to the mar­ket for smaller buses, the left-hand drive Mitr will be Ashok Ley­land’s ace card.

Apart from ex­pand­ing the three LCV plat­forms the com­pany cur­rently has, the plan, ac­cord­ing to Seth, is to de­velop new LCV plat­forms by 2019-2020. Well aware of the do­mes­tic LCV mar­ket turn­ing eight-per cent pos­i­tive for the first time this year, Seth is look­ing at hit­ting a six-lakh vol­ume by 2021. Seth is also hop­ing the LCV to be a big­ger player with the com­ing of GST. In the ex­port mar­kets, Seth is keen to lever­age the fact that Nis­san LCVs are mar­keted in many mar­kets mak­ing them a fa­mil­iar sight. With stress on fill­ing up the gaps in the LCV prod­uct port­fo­lio by devel­op­ing new plat­forms, Ashok Ley­land is look­ing at qua­dru­pling the sale of LCVs with the Nis­san joint ven­ture be­hind it. Keen to sell one LCV for ev­ery two LCVs sold in the In­dian mar­ket, the com­pany is banking on Dost+, which of­fers a 1400 kg ca­pac­ity and rides on 15-inch dia. wheels to fur­ther in­crease its LCV mar­ket share in the near fu­ture. The Dost+ comes equipped with six leaf spring sus­pen­sion at the rear, and a four-leaf spring sus­pen­sion at the front.

De­fence busi­ness

Pro­vid­ing fur­ther im­pe­tus to its de­fence strat­egy, the sup­ply of Stal­lion ve­hi­cle kits grew 7.4 per cent, from 3076 num­bers to 3304 num­bers. With an am­bi­tion to cater to 25 per cent of the de­fence budget, the com­pany has in­vested in a new de­fence ve­hi­cle fa­cil­ity at its En­nore plant. Spe­cial fo­cus is on cater­ing to de­fence ve­hi­cle mar­ket. Close to 95 per cent of the UN peace keep­ing forces in Africa, in­formed Dasari, use Ashok Ley­land ve­hi­cles. The com­pany has re­ceived 4x4 mine pro­tected ve­hi­cle or­der from the In­dian Army, he re­vealed.

In­vest­ing in the right so­lu­tions

Happy with the genset vol­ume growth of six per cent on the back of new prod­uct vari­ants, Ashok Ley­land has be­gun sell­ing au­to­mo­tive en­gines. It has re­ceived first cus­tomer or­der from USA. Said Gopal Ma­hade­van, Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer, Ashok Ley­land, “We have been do­ing away with all those in­side pro­cesses, which do not add value to a share­holder, ven­dor, cus­tomer or a large in­vestor. We are au­tomat­ing a lot of them, elim­i­nat­ing, and stream­lin­ing them. With lim­ited re­sources, we have been ju­di­ciously in­vest­ing em­ployee cost in prod­uct devel­op­ment and mar­ket­ing. Much

fo­cus is be­ing paid to achieve a high rate of suc­cess.” Claim­ing that Ashok Ley­land is one of the few com­pa­nies in the world to pos­sess sub-BSIII ca­pa­bil­i­ties since it caters to such mar­kets, Ma­hade­van averred, “We have BSIII in-line and com­mon-rail tech, and we have BSIV EGR and SCR.”

Own­ing Ger­man SCR spe­cial­ist Al­bonair, which sup­plies Euro6 SCR sys­tems to Volvo, Ashok Ley­land, it is sur­pris­ing, chose to de­velop iEGR rather than to de­ploy SCR. Said Dasari that stress was laid on of­fer­ing what would best suit the In­dian mar­ket. He gave an ex­am­ple of trucks be­ing washed by the river-side with buck­ets of wa­ter. Ex­pressed Ma­hade­van, “We are at­tribut­ing growth to ad­dress­ing the ex­act­ing needs of the mar­ket. We are the only man­u­fac­turer to in­crease the price of our prod­ucts in Jan­uary 2017 by four per cent. We are the only one to gain max­i­mum mar­ket share in March 2017.” Averred Dasari that the com­pany’s mar­ket share grew from 24 per cent to 32 per cent. Of the view that they have seen good growth de­spite hik­ing prod­uct prices, Gopal averred, the so­lu­tions we of­fer are about to­tal cost of own­er­ship. Work­ing on mul­ti­ple chan­nels, Ashok Ley­land, to tap growth, worked on in­creas­ing the points of pres­ence. “50 to 1,600 is a dis­rup­tive force,” said Ma­hade­van. Putting money on chan­nel ex­pan­sion rather than dis­counts, the com­pany con­cen­trated on ef­fi­cient break­down ser­vices, he added. This, men­tioned Gopal, was nec­es­sary be­cause the ve­hi­cles sold by them are of­ten mis­used, and are there­fore prone to a break­down.

Apart from in­vest­ing in the chan­nel, Ashok Ley­land has also in­vested in new prod­ucts. The Boss, Cap­tain, Part­ner, Jan­bus, Mitr, Guru, and others are a point in case. The com­pany lever­aged tech­nol­ogy to ad­dress the re­quire­ments of the cus­tomers at any given time. This helped the com­pany to se­cure an or­der from USA. Claim­ing that deal­ers ap­pre­ci­ated com­pany’s pol­icy to not push in­ven­tory, Gopal opined that a clear fo­cus is on re­turn on in­vest­ment at Ashok Ley­land when it comes to tech­nol­ogy. He ex­plained, “As far as tech­nol­ogy is con­cerned, ours is the only elec­tric bus that climbed the Ro­htang pass with­out a break­down.” Ashok Ley­land is build­ing its ca­pa­bil­i­ties in par­al­lel. It is digi­tis­ing. Men­tioned Ra­jive Sa­haria, that Ashok Ley­land is banking on dig­i­tal ini­tia­tives for growth.

Digi­ti­sa­tion

Digi­ti­sa­tion for Ashok Ley­land, apart from com­mon-rail en­gines, means telem­at­ics and a slew of ‘sup­port’ tech­nolo­gies. Men­tioned Dasari, “We de­vel­oped a new way of pro­vid­ing telem­at­ics in the form of a sin­gle de­vice that works on any Ashok Ley­land ve­hi­cle, and with­out any kind of en­gine or as­so­ci­ated ar­chi­tec­ture. It pro­vides driver in­for­ma­tion, di­ag­nos­tics, etc., and

is found on BSIV CVs.” Ashok Ley­land has de­vel­oped a scan tool for on­board di­ag­nos­tics for a frac­tion of a cost, and sans the need for a lap­top. The com­pany has also de­vel­oped Ley As­sist, which ac­cord­ing to Dasari is a Blue­tooth op­er­ated phone based tool to di­ag­nose er­ror with­out any phys­i­cal con­nec­tion. Look­ing at au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles and ve­hi­cle pla­toon­ing tech­nolo­gies as the fu­ture, the folks at Ashok Ley­land are work­ing in that di­rec­tion, al­beit with lim­ited re­sources. Ex­pressed Ma­hade­van, “I have lim­ited Dol­lars, and I am spend­ing them ef­fi­ciently.” “Our net price re­al­i­sa­tion in March was bet­ter than in Fe­bru­ary, and it is some­thing that is hard to be­lieve but true,” he added. Ashok Ley­land is pay­ing at­ten­tion on lo­gis­tics and sup­ply chain. It is also pay­ing at­ten­tion to im­prove the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of tier 2 sup­pli­ers. Re­vealed Ma­hade­van that stress is on per­ti­nent tech­nol­ogy; tech­nol­ogy that will sell. “We are thus keen to build an en­gine port­fo­lio, and turn it into a sep­a­rate line of busi­ness. A lot of our en­gines are used for marine ap­pli­ca­tions be­sides gensets,” he signed off.

⇦ Vinod K. Dasari, MD & CEO, Ashok Ley­land, ex­pressed con­fi­dence of get­ting over the pain in­flicted by the or­der to stop the sale of BSIII ve­hi­cles.

⇩ Ashok Ley­land has taken the iEGR route to com­ply with BSIV emis­sion reg­u­la­tions.

⇩ The Sun­shine school bus is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the in­no­va­tive and cus­tomer­centric prod­ucts Ashok Ley­land is con­cen­trat­ing upon.

⇦ Dost+ is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Ashok Ley­land’s LCV am­bi­tions.

⇩ Ashok Ley­land is in­vest­ing in chan­nel ex­pan­sion, digi­ti­sa­tion of ser­vices that would help to lower the cost of own­er­ship.

⇧ An eight­metre long Mitr bus will soon be in­tro­duced; seen here is a school bus on the Mitr plat­form.

⇧ Jan­bus in left­hand drive guise.

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