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Leading the way: Ashok Leyland

Ashok Leyland, flagship of the Hinduja Group, is changing the transport game.

Ashok Leyland is the flagship of the Hinduja Group, and rightfully so. It’s not only the second largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in India, but also the fourth largest manufacturer of buses in the world and the 12th largest manufacturer of trucks globally. Its brand is present in more than 50 countries and it is one of the most fully integrated manufacturing companies in Asia.

In FY2016–17, the company enjoyed a turnover of more than US$3.3 billion. And every day, millions of passengers choose to ride Ashok Leyland’s buses and over 700,000 of the company’s trucks help drive economies. With the largest fleet of logistics deployed in the Indian army, the firm also has myriad partnerships with international armed forces.

In 1948, Raghunandan Saran founded Ashok Motors, eponymously named after his son, to assemble Austin A40 and A70 cars in collaboration with Austin Motor Company, England. His big break came when Ashok Motors received the sole rights to import, assemble and progressively manufacture Leyland trucks for seven years. In 1951, the first Leyland chassis assembled by Ashok Motors at Ennore were four Comet 350-engine tippers sold to the Mangalore Tile Factory.

Three years later, the Indian government approved the progressive manufacture of Leyland commercial vehicles and a licence for 1,000 Comets a year was granted. In 1955, the company was renamed Ashok Leyland due to equity participation from Leyland Motors and, in 1972, the licence to manufacture 10,000 vehicles a year was granted.

Today, Ashok Leyland has nine main manufacturing plants across the globe, with its headquarters in Chennai, India. Joint venture partners include John Deere (US) for construction equipment, Continental AG (Germany) for automotive infotronics and the Alteams Group for the manufacture of high-press die-casting extruded aluminium components for the automotive and telecommunications sectors.

An international licence

Ashok Leyland’s growing international footprint is dependent on its ability to produce vehicles well suited to a wide range of conditions and terrains. Exporting to more than 30 countries globally, Ashok Leyland is the clear market leader for buses in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Mauritius, with a strong presence in the Middle East and Africa. In Lagos, Nigeria, Ashok Leyland is a participant in the Bus Rapid Transport system, delivering improved and comfortable city travel.

The company holds a 75.1% stake in Optare, a leading bus maker in the UK, in line with its mission to accelerate technology adoption, develop new products and address new markets. Optare is well-known for its range of innovative, mid-sized city buses. Its buses can be found not only in the UK but also in Europe, the US and further afield.

Established in 1982, Lanka Ashok Leyland (LAL) is a joint venture with the Sri Lankan Government, in which the company has a 28% equity holding. Ashok Leyland supplies chassis in both built-up and knocked down versions to LAL which, in turn, assembles the chassis and builds bodies for the local market. Built with the intention to feed the growing demands of the Gulf Cooperation Council and African markets, the Ashok Leyland UAE plant is tactically located. With the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority, Ashok Leyland has established a state-of-the-art facility, with an annual capacity to manufacture 2,000 vehicles.

Leading the way: Ashok Leyland

A successful year

Last year, Ashok Leyland won an order for 3,019 buses from Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). Worth approximately INR650 crore, this is one of the largest orders from a state transport body for a single OEM, and furthers Ashok Leyland’s leadership position in the Indian bus market.

“Our ability to bring value to customers like KSRTC is a testament to our superior technology and innovation, combined with low costs,” Ashok Leyland Managing Director Vinod Dasari says.

“Our buses are durable and robust, and employ the latest in technology. The cost of ownership and the product experience we can deliver is the best in the industry.

Our in-depth understanding of what works for our markets and customers is what differentiates us and has helped us win this order from KSRTC,” explains T Venkataraman, the company’s Senior Vice President of Global Buses.

“Our in-depth understanding of what works for our markets and customers is what differentiates us.”

A digital landscape

A constantly shifting digital landscape has not escaped Ashok Leyland’s notice, resulting in the creation of its Digital Marketplace, a destination for its customers to access and purchase IT commodities and services. It’s an industry-first combination of four innovative digital solutions. These solutions, founded on the company’s slogan, Aapki Jeet, Hamari Jeet (your win, is our win), have been developed with the aim to transform India’s commercial vehicle business.

According to the International Data Corporation’s Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the India smartphone market saw a shipment of 30 million units in the first quarter of 2018. It’s a strong start to the year for India, which is seeing a healthy year-on-year growth of 11%.

These digital solutions are simple to use, compatible with all smartphones, and work like any everyday app. The four digital solutions provide customers with straightforward logins to manage their businesses efficiently.

The Digital Marketplace comprises four apps: i-Alert helps customers track their vehicle and obtain important information about its health; ServiceMandi connects customers with rated, trained mechanics with pre-agreed rates; e-Diagnostics ensures fast diagnostics, and visual instructions for repair; and Leykart ensures a 24/7 sales channel for genuine spares with doorstep delivery.

Based on the latest technology platform, Ashok Leyland’s Digital Marketplace will empower customers to better manage their business and enhance profitability, as well as provide an opportunity for the company to sell services in the aftermarket.

“Ashok Leyland has always been at the forefront of innovation and technology. Based on our belief in Aapki Jeet, Hamari Jeet, we continually strive to bring many industry-firsts, which have disrupted the norm and helped us earn our customers’ trust and respect. To support this rapidly growing network of customers, we have consciously invested in creating a digital marketplace to support them,” says Vinod. “These digital solutions are an integral part of our growth plan and have the potential to overhaul our commercial vehicle ecosystem. We have been using the digital medium for the past five years to bring process efficiencies and operations improvement.

“Today, we are extending the use of the digital medium to enhance our customer efficiency, performance and profitability through ‘anytime, anywhere’ support for their vehicles. These initiatives will be a growth driver for us and will take us closer to our goal of achieving one-third of our revenues from the aftermarket business. We estimate that these initiatives have the potential of generating INR1,000 crore in the next three years.”

“We are extending the use of the digital medium to enhance our customer efficiency, performance and profitability through ‘anytime, anywhere’ support.”

10 key highlights for FY2017–18
  1. Highest ever MHCV domestic truck sales at 101,905 net outside sales (NOS).
  2. Highest ever LCV volumes at 43,441 NOS and grew by 37% in the year.
  3. Launched country’s first electric bus with battery-swap technology.
  4. Awarded Deming Prize for the Hosur plant – the highest recognition of quality worldwide.
  5. Awarded AA+ Credit Rating by ICRA: Highest in 20 years.

Fighting dengue fever

Ashok Leyland is leading a Dengue Fever Awareness campaign as part of its social responsibility to benefit the communities around its Hosur plant. Dr Godwin Erastus, Chief Medical Officer of Ashok Leyland, Hosur Plant-2, says the company believes that ‘prevention is better than cure’. As part of this initiative, Ashok Leyland supports Tamil Nadu government’s efforts in raising awareness of dengue fever, as well as monitoring and investigating all epidemics in the Hosur area.

Launched in Thally, near Hosur, the program benefits approximately 150 people from three villages in the area. With an increasing number of dengue cases recorded in government hospitals across Tamil Nadu, Ashok Leyland’s Dengue Fever Awareness campaign will benefit the wider community.

Kodagarai is the first village to benefit, with a comprehensive medical team deployed there to screen anyone reporting dengue symptoms and offering free medications. Ashok Leyland volunteers are also on the ground, working on the streets of Kodagarai to spread the message. Further, the CSR team shares the Dengue Fever Awareness campaign materials, including pamphlets and posters, with all plant visitors.

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