Leyland to start making electric, hybrid buses in India
16 Oct 2014
Ashok Leyland, a leader in commercial vehicles, will start manufacturing and marketing electric and hybrid buses in India from next year, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make-in India' campaign.
The company is looking to bring a range of vehicles from its UK arm Optare to India. It will be launching the Solo bus from Optare under its brand name in the Bus Expo in New Delhi early next year. Then, it will look at manufacturing electric and hybrid buses in India.
Optare has been selling 100 electric buses a year in the UK. ''The electric and hybrid bus cost a lot of money (Rs.2-3 crore), and can run up to 200 km. They do not make economic sense by themselves unless the state comes forward to support in the form of subsidies,'' Vinod Dasari, managing director of Ashok Leyland, said.
He said capacity was not an issue. The company needed to invest in battery technology which needed to be imported from the UK, the US, or China.
Ashok Leyland has bus manufacturing facilities at Alwar and Tiruchi. The electric and hybrid buses would be made from these facilities, he said. The company was also considering making these buses at its Middle East facility, he added.
To a query on whether India was ready for electric and hybrid buses, he said, ''20 years ago when we brought in the CNG buses, there was no market in India. There was no CNG available, but it was the right thing to do for the country. We are the market leader, and we have to do things to lead.''
The company is in discussion with various state governments for the electric and hybrid vehicles, Dasari said. The company would also look to export these buses, he added.
Vince Cable, UK secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, along with a business delegation, visited the company's facility in Chennai on Wednesday.
He said, ''The U.K. government is looking at electric vehicles as increasingly important as it helps in reducing the carbon emission.''
Cable also said that the UK was looking for more collaboration with India in manufacturing and education.