Ashok Leyland-Nissan JV forays into LCV market with Dost

Commercial vehicle maker Ashok Leyland says it expects its joint venture with Japan's Nissan Motor to sell 55,000 light commercial vehicles in the first year.

As the third largest Asian economy continues to grow 8 per cent, the LCV sector, which forms a key index of the economic health of a country is witnessing a boom.

Light commercial vehicle sales have clocked a 27.4 per cent growth so far this fiscal year, according to data released by an industry body, while the demand for cars has slumped in the world's second-fastest growing major auto market.

The 2008 JV, with total investment of Rs1,200 crore ($246 million) towards product development, launched its Dost model yesterday, marking the JV's foray into the LCV segment. The JV is targeting around 17 per cent of the smaller LCV market in India for the vehicle.

''The LCV market is underserved, so we are seeing enough demand for the next couple of years,'' V Sumantran, chairman of Nissan-Ashok Leyland Powertrain Ltd, told reporters at the sidelines of the launch event.

Dost carries a price tag varying beween Rs379,000 and Rs437,000 and would initially be launched in six states. According to industry experts, the pricing was competitive vis-a-vis similar models from Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra, priced between Rs350,000 and Rs450,000.