The light truck segment is one area no commercial vehicle manufacturer operating in India can overlook. Over the last 8 years, since the dawn of the Ace, Mahindra, Piaggio, Force Motors and Tata themselves defined and redefined payload categories, launching all sorts of vehicles.
[IAB readers R.Karthik and Anil spotted the Porter testing in Bengaluru late last year in the LHD arrangement]
Mahindra added a wheel to its 'Alfa' goods carrier to make 'Gio', India's smallest mini truck. As a fitting response, Tata went into the Nano's inventory room to come up with the Iris. Towards the end of the last decade, Force Motors and Mahindra tried hunting down the Ace through launching the Trump and the Maxximo, but these efforts proved futile, despite leveraging on advanced powertrain technologies or an atypical design.
Piaggio is the leader in the three-wheeled goods carrier segment and knows the sub-1 tonne segment like the back of its hand. It launched in India in 1999, and has put 1.5 million vehicles on the market. However its four-wheeler range, comprised of the Ape Truk Plus and the Ape mini, aren't as popular as their three-wheeled counterparts.
To take the Ace by its horns, Piaggio will launch two models from its Porter range in India in the following weeks.
Ravi Chopra, chairman and managing director of Piaggio India, to Business Standard -
Sometime at the end of this month or April, we will be putting into the market a vehicle called the Porter 600. In the market today, the Tatas have a vehicle called Zip and Mahindra have the Gio; in that category, the Porter 600 will be launched. The Porter 1000 (Ace segment offering) is also going to come out by the end of this month.
Tata Motors, according to a Business Standard report, averages 32,000 units of the Ace every month, which represents the only fast-growing segment of the commercial vehicle industry. To crunch numbers, the period between April 2012-February 2013 saw sales of 'light trucks' at 325,750 units as against 299,022 units during the same period last year.
Vehicles like the Ace, Zip and Maxximo are 'last mile' carriers. Trailers or containers transport goods from one part of the country to another, and these mini trucks are charged with delivering them to their destinations in metros where truck movement is banned or ambiguous during the daytime.
Greaves Cotton, which developed the Iris' 611cc single-cylinder diesel mill, will make engines for the Porter 600 while Piaggio will manufacture engines themselves for the Porter 1000. The vehicles will be made at the company's Baramati plant in Maharashtra.
Piaggio could roll out passenger applications on both platforms in the future to compete with the Magic Iris and the Ace Magic. It has also developed a larger displacement diesel motor with 50hp capacity which can be utilized on a bigger future product.
[Source - Business-Standard.com]