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New players, launches rev up auto mood

New Delhi, Aug. 2: The auto industry is betting on the entry of new players and launches to pep up the market.

Toyota’s commercial vehicle arm Hino Motors plans to set up a facility in India. At present, the Japanese company imports vehicles from Thailand.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Hino makes diesel trucks, buses and diesel engines.

The company will cater to the premium segment in India and compete with Volvo and Mercedes Benz.

Hino’s entry is at a time when its rivals are scaling back capacity and revising growth targets because of the economic slowdown.

Sources in the company said Hino was keen to enter the market on expectations that it would open up further in the next few years.

“Growth in the CV (commercial vehicles) segment is essential to keep the backbone of the industry strong. The industry is bound to do well once the slowdown cycle nears its end by the second half of this fiscal,” said auto analyst Murad Ali Baig.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, an industry body, estimates passenger vehicles to record a sales growth of 3-5 per cent in the current fiscal. Commercial vehicles are expected to clock a growth of 7-10 per cent, while two-wheelers and three-wheelers are likely to grow at 0-5 per cent and 5-8 per cent, respectively. Though multinationals are doing a rethink on big-ticket investments, local firms are expanding.

Bajaj Auto and Honda Motorcycle & Scooters India are creating capacity in the 100cc market. The former is all set to launch the 100cc motorcycle Discover DTS-Si later this month, aimed at the premium entry-level segment.

Bajaj plans to produce 30,000 units in the first year. At present, the company enjoys a nine per cent market share in the 100cc segment. “We have very ambitious plans for this bike, and together with other brands, target a monthly sale of 200,000 bikes this festive season,” said S. Sridhar, CEO (two wheelers), Bajaj Auto.

Andhra Pradesh’s MLR Motors is also expected to begin its small car project.

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