Thursday, April 19, 2012
By Pawan Rana
Ashok Leyland rules out rumours of foraying in car segment
We had heard enough about the utility vehicle maker Ashok Leyland foraying in the passenger car segment. But to everyone’s surprise the auto maker has denied the rumour of tapping into the passenger car segment. Managing Director of the company Vinod Dasari quoted as saying to a daily business newspaper that the company has no plans to crack the passenger car segment of the Indian auto market. He further mentioned that Ashok Leyland has made a mark in the commercial vehicle segment therefore the auto maker’s image could be a hurdle while foraying into the car segment.
At present time cars are not the focal point of the company however, Ashok Leyland was indulged in talks with Japanese partner Nissan to develop a low cost small car for the Indian car market but it seems the plan has been shelved and the company is not contemplating towards it. Commenting on the low cost small car development Mr Desai rubbished the rumours of Ashok Leyland teaming up with Nissan to conceive any such car, he said that it is more of an illusion created by media. Also when Nissan proclaimed the launch of an array of small cars under its low cost brand Datsun it did make any mention about Ashok Leyland which gives clear indication that the rumours about the low cost car plan with Ashok Leyland has no truth in it.
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But the utility vehicle maker is developing a MPV which will be launched by the end of this year. This MPV is christened Stile which is a rebadged version of Nissan’s soon to be launched MPV, Nissan Evalia. With Stile MPV, the auto maker aims at stepping into both people mover segment and goods carrier segment. The company could roll out Stile MPV with CNG engine option as that would pull a lot of customers who need a spacious vehicle for transporting goods. The Stile MPV will be powered with the 1.5 liter K9K, common rail turbo diesel engine.
Stile MPV will hit the market by the end of this year however Nissan plans to launch the Evalia MPV in India by August. Ashok Leyland refusing to foray into the small car segment is actually quite rational as the small car manufacturing will not go with the image of the automaker. In retrospect if we talk about utility vehicle makers who forayed in the car segment, it has not been an easy ride for them. For example Tata Motors is still struggling to be recognised as reputed brands in the car segment despite of launching outstanding products in car segment.