Ashok Leyland – Efficiency Innovations to India’s Medium and Heavy Commercial VehiclesBy Cuong Huynh • Nov 9th, 2009 • Category: Clean Car Talk Posts
Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles peeking into clean car industries and car manufacturers of China, India, South Korea and Germany. Please send comments and suggestions using our Contact page or by leaving a comment at the end of this article.
Ashok Leyland is one of India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturing companies and is a part of the Hinduja Group. Ashok Leyland is based in Chennai, India and focuses mostly on the medium and heavy commercial vehicle segment of the market. Enjoying healthy market share and a full range of offers from 18 to 52 seater passenger transport buses, Ashok Leyland is on a steady run towards being a market leader. In fact, eight out of every ten state transport buses running across India are manufactured by Ashok Leyland. Of late, it has entered into a joint venture with Japan’s giant, Nissan as it tries to penetrate the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) market.
Among many other goals, Ashok Leyland aims to expand its operations to penetrate into overseas markets. Included in the company’s plans is to acquire smaller car manufacturers in China and in other developing countries. In fact, recently, it has acquired the Avia truck line from Czech Republic. Called Avia Ashok Leyland Motors s.r.o., this will give Ashok Leyland a channel into the competitive European market. According to the company, in 2008 the joint venture sold 518 LCVs in Europe despite tough economic conditions. Furthermore, the company will expand its product offers into construction equipment, following a joint venture with John Deere. Newly formed in June 2009, the John Deere partnership is a 50/50 split between the companies. The company says negotiation is progressing on land acquisition, and the production plans are in place. The venture is scheduled to start rolling out wheel loaders and backhoe loaders in October 2010.
Aside from the full expansion planned for the company, Ashok Leyland is also paying close attention to the environment. In fact, they are one of the companies showing the strongest commitment to environmental protection, utilizing eco-friendly processes in their various plants. Even as they thrust into different directions, Ashok Leyland maintains an R&D group that aims to uncover ways to make their vehicles more fuel efficient and reduce emissions.
In fact, even before laws were placed on car emissions, Ashok Leyland was already producing low-emission vehicles. Back in 1997, they have already released buses with quiet engines and low pollutant emission based on the CNG technology. In 2002 it developed the first hybrid electric vehicle. Ashok Leyland has also launched a mobile emission clinic that operates on highways and at entry points to New Delhi. The clinic checks vehicles for emission levels, recommends remedies and offers tips on maintenance and care. This work will help generate valuable data and garner insight that will guide further development.
When it comes to the development of environmentally friendly technologies, Ashok Leyland has developed Hythane engines. In association with Eden Energy, Australia, Ashok Leyland successfully developed a 6-cylinder, 6-liter 92 kW BS-4 engine which uses Hythane (H-CNG,) which is a blend of natural gas and around 20% of hydrogen. Hydrogen helps improve the efficiency of the engine but the CNG aspect makes sure that emissions are at a controlled level. A 4-cylinder 4-litre 63 KW engine is also being developed for H-CNG blend in a joint R&D program with MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) and Indian Oil Corporation.
The H-CNG concept is now in full swing, with more than 5,500 of the technology’s vehicles running around Delhi. The company is also already discussing the wide-scale use of Hythane engines with the Indian government. Hythane engines may be expected in the near future, but these may not be brought to the United States as yet.
Ashok Leyland’s partnership with Nissan is also focusing on vehicle, powertrain, and technology development listed under three joint ventures. With impressive investment, the joint ventures will focus on producing trucks with diesel engines that meet Euro 3 and Euro 4 emission standards.
In the coming years, Ashok Leyland also has some hybrid trucks and buses in store for its market. The buses and trucks are set to feature a new electronic shift-by-wire transmission technology as well as electronic-controlled engine management for greater fuel efficiency. Ashok Leyland focuses on improving fuel efficiency without affecting automotive power, and the vehicles will have a 5% improvement on fuel efficiency. Ashok Leyland is also developing electric batteries and bio-fuel modes.
Cuong Huynh is a marketing communications consultant working in the San Diego area. Cuong is dedicated to helping individuals and companies maximize their presence on the Internet and efficiently take products and services to market through SEO and network marketing. Cuong also maintains a blog on Marketing at marketingautopsyblog.com. You can also find Cuong Huynh's profile on LinkedIn. For fun he maintains a blog on Vietnamese pho, soccer and do storyboards for movie and film projects. Follow Cuong on Twitter @CuongHuynh, @LovingPho, @CleanCarTalk, @BlockbusterFilm, @SoccerUSA.
Email this author | All posts by Cuong Huynh