Commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland Ltd will enter the Russian market with a local partner in a year, said a top company official. He also said the company plans to enter the top 10 global commercial vehicle manufacturer's club soon."We have identified a local assembler in Russia to take our franchise. We will enter the Russian market in the next 12 months," Dheeraj G Hinduja, Chairman told reporters here on Monday. According to him, in the new markets, the company will have a local partner as there will be tax concessions. Hinduja said large distributors in newer markets are now showing interest in taking Ashok Leyland franchise. He said the company is looking at newer overseas markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, and others apart from Russia.
As a measure to look at newer overseas markets, Ashok Leyland has decided to come out with a left-hand drive vehicle for all its new models. Currently the company exports to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Middle East, Bhutan, East, and West African markets. He said Ashok Leyland is faring better during this downturn as compared to the earlier downturn in 2013-14. "We have gained market share in the bus and medium and heavy commercial vehicle's segment. Our market share now is 31 percent. We are also cutting costs," Hinduja said. According to him, the company had a debt level of about Rs. 6,000 crore during 2013-14 and it has come down to about Rs. 1,800 crore. Hinduja said, earlier the company was in an investment mode putting money in joint ventures with John Deere, Nissan, and others which were draining cash. He said the company had exited the joint ventures with John Deere and Nissan.
Hinduja said the company saw good potential in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) rolled out by the joint venture with Nissan and bought out the Japanese companya¿s stake in the venture. Globally LCV's account for about 70 percent of the market and the severity of the industry down cycle is lesser than that of the medium and heavy vehicles. According to him, the company will be launching the BS-VI vehicles and the vehicles will be built on a modular platform. Queried about the time frame for Ashok Leyland to enter the top 10 global commercial vehicle makers club, Hinduja said the idea is to enter it soon. "The last vision was to enter the top 10 medium and heavy commercial vehicle segment. That target was fixed in 2010 and was achieved in 2019," Hinduja said.