Monday, Jul 28, 2003
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By N. Ravi Kumar
After tasting success in Mathura and Panipat in the north, where the facility was launched a few months ago, the national major is keen on "carrying the retail business" to other remote areas, including some southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
"We have identified a few pockets, in the hinterland, of Thanjavur, Tiruchi and Tirunelveli where we plan to introduce the mobile dispensing units", the Director-Marketing of BPCL, S. Radhakrishnan, told The Hindu, here yesterday. The company would shortly seek local approval, he said, adding each vehicle would have about eight storage units, with a capacity of 3,000 litres.
While the basic objective is to take the products closer to the rural consumers, for their transportation and agricultural needs, it is also aimed at serving motor vehicles traversing remote areas with no petrol bunks in the vicinity.
On the safety aspect of the facility, Mr. Radhakrishnan said the units were introduced in the north only after obtaining clearance from the Explosives department. The units were also expected to play a crucial role in curbing the trend of storing automobile fuels in containers, a potential safety hazard considering the highly inflammable nature of the products.
The main advantage of the mobile dispensers would be the availability of "quality products at a place near to them", Mr. Radhakrishnan said, adding that the cost of the fuel would be "marginally higher". At present, many rural consumers get their supply of petrol and diesel from unauthorised shops, where the quality of the fuel was a suspect and the products were priced at a premium.
The mobile bunks would help the company extend its reach to markets which remained untapped "before being attacked by the big ones", the Director-Marketing of BPCL said, in a veiled reference to plans of multinational companies to launch petroleum products retailing in the country.
The facility would help the national oil company in further popularising its concept of `Pure for Sure' bunks. During the current fiscal, the BPCL proposed to spend around Rs.450-crore on its retail business, including on infrastructure. The company would lay greater emphasis on leveraging its brand and convert 2,000 (out of its total 4,700 petrol bunks) high-selling outlets into `Pure for Sure' outlets. The company also planned to launch variants of petrol and diesel, he added.
On the strategy to promote eco-friendly Auto LPG, Mr. Radhakrishnan said, customer response to many of the auto LPG dispensing stations "is not very encouraging". It would pick up only if RTOs take action against vehicles running on replaceable LPG cylinders.
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