Home-grown commercial vehicle manufacturer, Ashok Leyland, has launched a new light commercial vehicle (LCV) - Bada Dost, in India. It's the company first LCV to be developed in-house and it's based on an all-new platform that supports both left-hand drive (LHD) and right-hand drive (RHD) applications. One of the main reasons for this is that Ashok Leyland wants to expand its global footprint in the LCV space, and it plans to do that with the new platform. While the RHD models will go to markets like - Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal, the LHD version will be exported to Africa.
Speaking to carandbike, Nitin Seth, COO, Ashok Leyland said, "We have a vision to be in top 10 in the world. LCV is the global 70 per cent, and if you have to be in the top 10, you have to play a big role, in that 70 per cent. And if you have to play a big role in that 70 per cent, you need a range of products, which is right-hand drive and left-hand drive. Currently, India is RHD, and globally 80 per cent of markets are LHD. Our range is limited in LHD." He further added, "One of the restrictions for us to be in global top 10 was to have a global quality vehicle and to have it in LHD as well. What we are doing right now, is to launch a vehicle which will meet our global aspirations and take us to the next level to meet our vision."
Ashok Leyland has announced that it will be launching a new product based on the new platform every 3 to 4 months, which will include products for both domestic and international markets. The new Bada Dost, and the subsequent products will be manufactured at the company's Hosur plant, near Chennai. In fact, for the first time, the company has installed a state-of-the-art, fully robotic cubing line at the facility that will be used to manufacture both LHD and RHD models.
Nitin Seth also said, "The objective is to grow volumes by becoming a bigger player, and one of the ways to become a bigger player is to have more range of products. At the end, a customer wants choices, he wants more GVW, he wants more loading area, he wants multiple things. Similarly, we get a lot of demand from our export clients, saying 'we need more vehicles', 'we want modern vehicles'."
The newly launched Ashok Leyland Bada Dost comes in two options - i3 and i4, and they come with a best-in-class payload capacity of 1,860 kg and 1,405 kg, respectively. Both models also come in two variants each LS and LX and have multiple applications in goods and passenger carrier space. While domestic sales have already begun, Ashok Leyland will begin exporting the vehicle to RHD markets by end of 2020, while exports to LHD markets will begin between January and March 2021.