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