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March 22, 2000
Tatra puts off tractor-trailor launch in India
Czech truck-maker Tatra AS has applied brakes on plans to foray into the on-road heavy commercial vehicle segment with its tractor-trailor, a top company official said.
The company has decided to delay the launch of its tractor-trailors till the end of this calendar year and is now working on improving its service set-up across the country before introducing the vehicles here, Lt. Gen. R I S Kahlon, managing director of Tatra Udyog Limited or TUL, said.
TUL, a 50-50 joint venture between Tatra AS of the Czech Republic and Vectra Investments Private Limited of India, had commenced operations from its Hosur plant near Bangalore in 1998.
''We are now planning to strengthen presence in the off-road segment with more additions to its dumpers and tippers,'' Kahlon said. The company had earlier planned to introduce the tractor-trailor in April this year, marking its foray into the on-road segment in India.
''But we realised that we are presently not in a position to service the entire country. On road, the trucks would move the length and breadth of the country and we have to service them wherever they are. So we now intend to put up a good service network across the country before venturing into the tractor-trailor segment.''
The Automotive Research Association of India has already cleared the vehicle for use on Indian roads.
As a first step, the company has earmarked a Rs 100-million investment in Tatra Rapid Response or TRR, an independent service professional training set-up. This, he said, is part of the Rs 1 billion that Tatra plans to invest in India over the next 3-4 years. The rest of the investments are likely to flow in for setting up an engine assembly shop and cabin make-ups.
"The investment has already been approved by the board and we are finalising the mode of financing these investments, Jojo Alexander, director of Tatra Udyog Limited, added.
The company, he said, is mulling all options, including fresh infusion of equity by both the promoters and even local borrowings in India. The promoters also plan to bring in money as overseas loans.
Currently, the company's main focus is on infrastructure, particularly mining, construction and hydel power project. ''Due to its unique chassis construction, Tatra trucks can move at any speed on any terrain and climatic conditions,'' Kahlon said.
The Tatra vehicle, engineered to Indian conditions, has undergone extensive trials at the Automotive Research Association of India, Pune, for certification of roadworthiness and compliance to Indian Motor Vehicles Rules.
''We have undertaken a massive exercise to Indianise the vehicle," Kahlon said.
Tatra AS, one of the oldest truck manufacturers of the world, is part of the Skoda Plzen Group, which is an internationally-known heavy engineering conglomerate.
The company's Hosur plant has an installed capacity of 1,000 units a year and is presently producing 200 units a year. It expects to achieve optimum utilisation within three years.
Tatra Udyog had unveiled two new variants of its heavy duty dumpers -- T-815 Tractor-Trailer 6x4.2 and the Tatra Ind Chassis 6x6 with Maxon Agitor -- at the recently- held Auto Expo 2000.
The new vehicles would be marketed in the country under the Tatra-Ind brand name and is targeted at the construction and mining sectors.
The Tatra-Ind Chassis 6x6 with Maxon Agitor is a cement mixer with a payload capacity of 7.0 cubic metre of concrete mix. Other mixers discharge their payload in a slow and continuous process. The mixer can tip the entire contents in one motion, resulting in much faster discharge, which saves time and make it ideal for high speed paving and mass pour operations.
The T-815 Tractor-Trailer is a 308hp, 12,667-cc vehicle meant for long range on-road haulage of heavy cargo. The tractor-trailer has a payload capacity of 20 tonnes and a gross train weight of 65 tonnes.
It can cruise at speeds up to 75 km hour on any kind of roads. The vehicle can be used as a two-axle tipping semi-trailer with 30 cubic metre body for off-road haulage applications or as a three-axle platform semi-trailer to carry 40 feet containers for highway freight movement.
Presently, TUL is importing complete knocked-down kits from Tatra AS and assembling them in the plant at Hosur. The plant located near an established ancillary base has a capacity of 2,500 vehicles on a three shift basis.
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