Tata Ul­tra range of trucks to be a dis­rup­tive force in the mar­ket

Auto components India - - OEM - Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

The en­tire range of Ul­tra trucks that Tata Mo­tors has launched hint at a new truck­ing stan­dard in the In­ter­me­di­ate and Light Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cle (ILCV) seg­ments. The two-wheeler car­rier draws at­ten­tion among the 13 Ul­tra trucks that Tata Mo­tors has in­tro­duced. The GVW of 16,190 kg gets the truck to go be­yond the in­ter­me­di­ate seg­ment. Fit to be termed as a medium com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle rather than an in­ter­me­di­ate com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle, the Ul­tra 1518 twowheeler car­rier, fit­ted with a wider sleeper

cab hints at how im­por­tant the Ul­tra plat­form is to the com­pany. Some 3000 units of the Ul­tra have been seeded al­ready, and the feed­back, ac­cord­ing to Girish Wagh, Head, Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles, Tata Mo­tors, has been pos­i­tive.

Claimed to be the most sig­nif­i­cant CV plat­form to come out of Tata Mo­tors in the last 2 decades after the Prima, the Ul­tra range of trucks, com­pris­ing 14 mod­els, and in a GVW range of 7-tonne to 16.2-tonne, em­pha­sise in­no­va­tion, ac­cord­ing to Guenter Butschek, CEO and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Tata Mo­tors. Aim­ing at seg­ments that clocked 85,000 units in FY2016-17, and grew to 105,000 units in FY2017-18, the Ul­tra range of trucks, ac­cord­ing to Butschek, will prove to be a dis­rup­tive force in the mar­ket.

Aim­ing at no less than 50 ap­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing twowheeler car­riage, ce­ment, poul­try, e-com­merce, con­struc­tion, agri­cul­tural sup­ply chain, di­verse mu­nic­i­pal util­i­ties and more, the abil­ity of the Ul­tra trucks to cus­tomise them­selves should be highly ad­van­ta­geous. Stat­ing that they are about class-lead­ing TCO, mod­u­lar ap­proach and cus­tomi­sa­tion, Butschek said, “The Ul­tra trucks are a re­sult of ex­ten­sive cus­tomer feed­back.”

Priced be­tween Rs 10 lakh and Rs 25 lakh, the Ul­tra range of trucks, ac­cord­ing to Wagh, are about con­ve­nience, per­for­mance and com­fort, and will ad­dress the chang­ing needs of end-users, fleet own­ers and driv­ers through su­pe­rior earn­ing po­ten­tial, low cost of own­er­ship and timely de­liv­ery of goods. Ar­riv­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment where strong growth in­di­ca­tors are ev­i­dent in the form of over Rs 6 lakh crore ded­i­cated to road de­vel­op­ment un­der the Gram Sadak Yo­jana, ex­po­nen­tial rise in e-com­merce, and the rise in man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors like ce­ment, the Ul­tra range of trucks have been engi­neered to meet the chang­ing re­quire­ments of the cus­tomers.

Hint­ing at an at­ten­tion to de­tail, given the abil­ity to the truck range, al­beit with dif­fer­ent drive ori­en­ta­tion, to foward the in­ter­est of Tata Mo­tors in over­seas mar­kets, the Ul­tra truck range has ar­rived against a back­drop where the seg­ments that it is in are posied for big growth. “The rise of 3PL lo­gis­tics, rated pay­load regime and smart cities are set to put the ILCV on a fast growth track,” Wagh said. He drew at­ten­tion to the mar­ket share growth of Tata ILCVs at 23%, buck­ing the trend of last 2 years.

Pow­ered by a new 125 hp 3-litre, and a 210 hp 5-litre Tur­brotron com­mon­rail turbo-diesel en­gine with EGR ex­haust af­tertreat­ment sys­tem, the Ul­tra range boasts of a mod­ern de­sign. The cab­ins (there are 3 types – day, wide and sleeper) not only lend a dash of style to the Ul­tra with an aero­dy­namic full-for­ward con­trol stance, and the clear lens head lamps, they also help meet the world stan­dards (Euro­pean safety norms) and some of the fu­ture re­quire­ments as well. In­side, the cabin looks mod­ern and er­gonom­i­cally wellar­ranged. Of­fer­ing bench­mark lev­els of vis­i­bil­ity, safety and driv­ing com­fort, the walk-through cab­ins of­fer suf­fi­cient stor­age ca­pac­ity and the pro­vi­sion to fit var­i­ous ac­ces­sories. When Ul­tra 1518 Plus comes with a sleeper bunk, the one with a (nar­row) day cabin pro­vides enough space for up to 3 peo­ple to sit com­fort­ably. Hy­drauli­cally tiltable up to 45-de­gree to gain ac­cess to the me­chan­i­cals be­low, the cab­ins of the Ul­tra truck range are de­signed to of­fer fatigue-free driv­ing for longer in­ter­vals.

The mod­ern dash fin­ished in a shad of black comes as a pleas­ant change. Not only does the dash with the gear shifter jut­ting out of the cen­tral con­sole make for a car-like am­bi­ence, it adds to con­ve­nience and com­fort. Ca­pa­ble of meet­ing global truck­ing stan­dards of emis­sions, safety and fea­tures, tested and ho­molo­gated into var­i­ous geogra­phies (like South Africa, Malaysia, Phillip­ines, In­done­sia and other mar­kets) out­side In­dia, the Ul­tra range of trucks prom­ises to de­liver su­pe­rior per­for­mance, su­pe­rior pay­load, in­dus­try lead­ing mileage and sig­nif­i­cant pro­duc­tiv­ity gains from among the low­est cost of own­er­ship.

The wheel size of the Ul­tra trucks, vary­ing (22.5 inch dia. for the two-wheeler car­rier, 20 inch dia. for the 1518 tip­per, and 17.5 inch dia. for the Ul­tra T.7) ac­cord­ing to the pay­load ver­sion, the em­pha­sis on mod­u­lar­ity is im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent. The Ul­tra truck range is highly mod­u­lar. With a wheel­base that varies from 3.3 m to 6.8 m as per the vari­ent cho­sen, the trucks come in with ei­ther a 5-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, a 6-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion or an au­to­mated man­ual trans­mis­sion. In the truck fit­ted with au­to­mated man­ual trans­mis­sion, the con­trols are in the form of but­tons that are lo­cated at the same place the gear shifter of the man­ual ver­sion is lo­cated on the cen­tre con­sole. Good deal of mod­u­lar­ity means the cabin width dif­fers from 1.9 m to 21 m.

Engi­neered to ad­dress the chang­ing needs of end-users, fleet own­ers and driv­ers through su­pe­rior earn­ing po­ten­tial, low cost of op­er­a­tion, and timely de­liv­ery of goods ac­cord­ing to Wagh, the Ul­tra range of trucks re­flect at a dis­rup­tive strat­egy at paly. It is based on in­no­va­tive prod­ucts no doubt, but the fact is, much at­ten­tion has also gone into en­sur­ing high re­li­a­bil­ity.

The Ul­tra range of trucks have been struc­tured at cer­tain stages in such a way that the 10.3-tonne pay­load model over­laps into the next seg­ment. Of­fer­ing higher ton­nage po­ten­tial at ev­ery ton­nage point ac­cord­ing to Girish, the Ul­tra range of trucks are ex­pected to help Tata Mo­tors to main­tain trac­tion in the ILCV seg­ments by clock­ing higher growth than the in­dus­try av­er­age. Clock­ing growth of 37% against the in­dus­try growth of 25%, the Ul­tra ange of trucks are made at the same plant in Pune where the leg­endary Tata 407 LCV be­gan pro­duc­tion in the early 80s.

Ac­cord­ing to Wagh, the Tata 407 cre­ated a com­pletely new seg­ment and rev­o­lu­tionised truck­ing in In­dia. “Made at the same lo­ca­tion, the Ul­tra marks a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward,” he said. Quite mod­u­lar in na­ture, and backed by 3-lakh and 3-year war­ranty, the Ul­tra range of trucks of­fer longer deck lengths and higher pay­load ca­pac­i­ties. A trendsetter ac­cord­ing to Bustchek, the trucks by backed by a guar­an­tee of break­down as­sis­tance in 4 hours. A re­sult of an in­vest­ment of Rs 1500 crore over the last few years, and which will go up ac­cord­ing to Girish, the Ul­tra truck range is well poised to tap the trend of higher ton­nage. Rid­ing on the per­for­mance of Tata Mo­tors, which recorded a 2.7% gain in FY 2017-18, the truck range is avail­able with al­ter­nate fu­els like LNG as well. With a LNG ver­sion, Ul­tra 1412 LNG, pow­ered by a 120 hp en­gine mated to a 5-speed gear­box, a de­fin­i­tive dis­rup­tive strat­egy is at work as the com­pany looks at gain­ing a big­ger egde over com­pe­ti­tion.

Equipped with power steer­ing and par­a­bolic leaf spring sus­pen­sion at front, the Ul­tra range of trucks, said Bustchek, sig­nal the fu­ture of truck­ing. Draw­ing at­ten­tion to the ex­ten­sive cus­tomer feed­back sought from op­er­a­tors of the seeded units, he said, “We are on our toes to keep the tide on our side; to sur­prise the com­pe­ti­tion.” The 2 Tur­botron en­gines that power the Ul­tra range of trucks (one is a DOHC and the other, a SOHC) not only hint at how Tata Mo­tors is build­ing fu­ture com­pe­ten­cies, but also at an ef­fort to ad­dress the chang­ing re­quire­ments of the op­er­a­tors as well as the en­dusers in terms of car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity, up­time and turn­around pe­riod.

Also point­ing at the change in power to weight ra­tio in-line with the tight­en­ing emis­sion reg­u­la­tions and the re­sul­tant ap­pli­ca­tion of tech­nol­ogy, the 2 Tur­botron en­gines, ac­cord­ing to Wagh, are fu­tur­eready and scal­able to meet BSVI emis­sion reg­u­la­tions. Con­sider the ag­gre­gates that have gone into the mak­ing of the Ul­tra range – the Mer­i­tor axles and Wabco brak­ing sys­tem for ex­am­ple, and it in­deed marks a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how soon, or the man­ner in which the Ul­tra in­flu­ences a change in mar­ket dy­nam­ics in the ILCV seg­ments.

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