Ashok Leyland plans to unveil the Caravan, its latest offering at the Auto Expo.
Ashok Leyland Limited (ALL) is the second largest manufacturer of medium/heavy commercial vehicles (M/HCVs) with 34% market share in September 1999.
The Caravan is designed by Dilip Chhabria and will mark Ashok Leyland's foray in the customised personal vehicle segment. A novel concept, the vehicle has been designed to suit holidaying/executive travel and comes with a television, digital video disc player, audio system and a personal computer. The vehicle is a complete home with bedroom, bar, a toilet, and a pantry with a refrigerator and microwave oven. This was reported by a leading financial daily.
The company will also be unveiling the Rhino 4421 - the country's maiden, indigenously built 44 tonne tractor trailer. This will be in direct competition to the Volvo.
ALL has tied up with Pragoti of Bangladesh. The latter will assemble ALL's Comet trucks. This move is significant given the fact that Bangladesh accounts for 20% of the company's exports to SAARC countries.
With an added focus on marketing, the company has outlined plans to set up virtual showrooms in its web site. This will allow customers to view its entire product range. It will also allow dealers to place orders over the Internet. Initially, this service will be available to overseas customers.
All these moves highlight the fact that the company is taking concerted steps to push its products. It is innovating by introducing the concept of personal vehicles in India. The company's prime targets would be the corporates. As the product has no history in the country, it is difficult to comment on its viability. The company will operate in a niche market to begin with, and if it prospers others like TELCO and Eicher Motors could also make a foray in this segment.
ALL's marketing foray on the Internet seems to indicate that the company has taken to the web in a big way and is looking at it as an avenue to boost sales. ALL has certainly been more forward-looking and has adapted technology faster than some of its peers in the industry.
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