Ashok Leyland-Nissan launch much-awaited LCV 'Dost'

Ashok Leyland Ltd, the flagship company of the Hinduja Group and India's largest maker of commercial vehicles, on Monday launched its much-awaited light commercial vehicle Dost, the first product of its joint venture agreement signed with Japan's Nissan Motor Co in 2007.

A 1.25-tonne truck aimed at owner-operators making last-mile delivery of consumables like fruits and vegetables, Dost is priced between Rs3.79 and Rs4.39 lakh (ex-showroom, Chennai) depending on the variant.

The partnership with Nissan envisaged investments of Rs2,300 crore. The launch of the new LCV was delayed by at least a year because of the economic slowdown following the 2008 global economic meltdown.

Ashok Leyland chairman Dheeraj G Hinduja told reporters at the launch in Chennai on Monday that the joint venture would expand its range of LCVs over the next two years.

He said that the Dost was ''a testimony of Ashok Leyland's expertise in the field'', and by partnering with Nissan it would be able to offer products which are "Japan quality offered at Indian cost''.

The company is aiming at sales of 55,000 units a year, which could help offset flagging demand for its medium and heavy vehicles due to rising interest rates and costs.