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Dasari to focus on people, products and brand to drive performance

Special Correspondent

Ashok Leyland keen to be among top global players

Company to add new vehicles to

its portfolio

Engine division looking at more opportunities


ACCELERATING GROWTH:Managing Director of Ashok Leyland Vinod K. Dasari addressing a press conference in Chennai on Monday.

CHENNAI: Commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland will continue to focus on volume growth without hurting its position as a ‘continuous profit-earning' company, reiterates Vinod K. Dasari, who took over as its Managing Director on April 1.

In his maiden press briefing since he took over the mantle from R. Seshasayee, Mr. Dasari had indicated that he would focus on products, people and brand to drive the performance of the company. Committing himself to the vision enunciated by the top management team of the company, Mr. Dasari said he would strive to build “an earthquake-proof skyscraper that can withstand the cyclical nature of the industry”.

The Managing Director said the flagship company of the Hinduja Group would have to explore growth opportunities abroad if it were to be ranked among the top ten global truck makers and top five bus producers in the world. “We are looking at partners to help our cause to accelerate growth in Ashok Leyland,” he said. This might be either through joint ventures or acquisitions, he said. In line with its vision to be among the top global players, Ashok Leyland would also step up its initiatives on the export front. “We want exports to contribute to about 20-25 per cent of our sales in the next three-five years,” Mr. Dasari said. In this context, the company would explore newer markets such as Africa, CIS nations, Latin America and West Asia. Currently, the company's annual exports were around 10,306 vehicles out of total sales of 94,105 vehicles. The company, according to him, had increased production across its major units. “We are hoping to make 35,000 to 45,000 vehicles from our Pant Nagar unit this year, which produced just about 2,600 numbers in last fiscal,” he said.

To a question, he said, Ashok Leyland was planning to add new vehicles to its portfolio.

“We plan to bring Avia trucks and Optare buses to India sometime this year,” he said. Ashok Leyland, it may be recalled, acquired Avia Truck, a leading vehicle maker in Europe, in October 2006. In July 2010, the company also acquired 26 per cent stake in Optare plc., a U.K.-headquartered bus maker for $ 7.5 million. New vehicles from its John Deere partnership would also hit the Indian roads in June this year.

Asserting that the company would not sway its focus away from commercial vehicles, he, nevertheless, saw nothing wrong in Ashok Leyland exploring opportunities in adjacent areas. In this context, he said the engine division was in the process of exploring new areas. A mechanised boat fitted with a new Ashok Leyland engine would be out soon. “So long as the engineering is the core, why not look at products around it?” countered Mr. Dasari.

Ashok Leyland closed the year ended March, 2011 by posting an all-time high sales and production numbers. The annual sales volume, at 94,105 vehicles (63, 926 vehicles), was up 47 per cent. While the domestic market accounted for 83,799 vehicles (57,947 vehicles), exports touched 10,306 vehicles (5,979 vehicles). The March sales figures were also an all-time high for the company in a single month with total vehicle sales of 12,168, reflecting a 21 per cent jump. Domestic sales rose 22 per cent at 11,312 and exports increased 12 per cent to 856 vehicles.

Total production for the year also was the highest ever at 95,337 vehicles (64,673 vehicles).

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