India´s maturing market for trucks, tippers and dumpers is creating scope for brands to offer feature-rich products.
Demand for tippers has barely grown between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent in the past six months, according to Rajesh Kaul, Business Head-Intermediate, Medium & Heavy Trucks, Tata Motors Ltd. Low growth has pulled down the consolidated growth in the IM&HCV business to 26 per cent now.
Still, sentiment is turning positive in the trucks, tippers and dumpers market. ¨Construction, infrastructure development and mining are showing signs of improvement, on top of which the RBI repo rate cut will catalyse the sector,¨ says RN Rao, Director-Marketing, AMW Motors Ltd. ¨The industry was waiting for this rate cut to boost the economy and, in turn, increase demand for tippers and construction equipment.¨
According to Rao, some major states including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are already showing signs of growth, and this may trigger other geographies. As the tippers and construction equipment market comes out of yearly cyclicality, post-monsoon demand will increase. Overall, he expects to see 8-10 per cent growth in tippers this fiscal. As a rule of thumb, 1 per cent rise in GDP translates into demand for 40,000 on-highway trucks; such is the correlation between improvement in the economy and movement of goods, he explains.
However, Rao adds a note of caution: ¨With GDP growth sluggish, expansion demand is yet to materialise. Also, replacement cycles are about 50 per cent longer than the customary four to five years. We´re seeing a 15-18 per cent increase in demand for on-highway trucks; this is replacement demand from fleet owners who are compelled to change their fleet to recover some resale value and modernise it.¨
All the signs show that the Indian market for tippers, dumpers and trucks is maturing. In maturing markets, instead of focusing solely on the upfront acquisition cost for determining what product to purchase, customers start to additionally focus on quality, performance, total cost of ownership (TCO) and profitability over the lifetime. Industry voices say this is happening in India.
¨The customer´s key priority is transporting heavy loads at the lowest possible cost,¨ reasons Rajive Saharia, President-Trucks, Ashok Leyland. ¨So, ruggedness and reliability are essential in tippers as are higher uptime, box and rock type body and higher fuel mileage.¨
¨Customers primarily look for features that boost productivity and safety,¨ says GV Rao, Vice President-Product Strategy, Brand & Marketing, Volvo Group Trucks Sales-Hub India. ¨Tippers for mining applications demand a high power-to-weight ratio. Higher horsepower and torque enhance dump truck and tipper performance and higher grade ability and startability, which help shorten trip cycle times and improve overall productivity.¨
For his part, Anders Grundströmer, Managing Director, Scania India, and Senior Vice President, Scania Group, makes an interesting point. ¨We´re seeing growing demand for premium mining vehicles on the back of coal mining projects; a CAGR of 15 per cent year-on-year this year and 5.15 per cent last year. We expect this trend to persist with the government planning to double coal excavation to 1 billion tonne by 2020 and boost other mining segments. Also in demand are vehicles that can provide optimal solutions in the mining field, based on fuel efficiency, product reliability, durability, ease of engagement, aftermarket service and parts availability.¨
Saharia also notes the market is progressively accepting onboard diagnostics and telematics as original equipment (OE) fitments. ¨Telematics and onboard diagnostics are also becoming quite popular as these features directly impact productivity and operational efficiency and have a bearing on the bottom-line of operators,¨ agrees Rao of Volvo.
Volvo is also seeing good traction for automated transmissions to reduce driver fatigue and improve fuel efficiency and productivity. ¨Our path-breaking feature, Volvo I shift (intelligent shift), an automated gearbox for mining vehicles, simulates a skilled driver,¨ he adds.
However, wide acceptance for auto transmission and other electronics is still sometime away. Auto transmission and electronic engines are expensive, besides they push up operational costs and pull down profitability, adds Saharia.
¨Most customers in the volume segments are still hesitant to pay for more sophisticated systems, like auto transmissions, onboard diagnostics, and so on,¨ says Florian Laudan, Head, Corporate Communications, Daimler Trucks Asia. ¨Also finding drivers that get the best out of such advanced functions is not always possible.¨
To proffer tippers well-suited to market demand, Ashok Leyland offers reliable drive line aggregates for higher uptime and lower maintenance costs.
Also, a new electronic cluster with LED and gear shift advisory system (GSAS) for better operational efficiency and world-class AC cabin are fitted into tippers. BharatBenz offers value-for-money features, such as significant fuel efficiency advantages, best-in-class reliability with parts engineered for a long lifespan and longer service intervals. It also offers a wide range of choice for the construction and mining segment, including the BharatBenz 2528C and 3128C, powerful workhorses that provide maximum productivity, superior power and torque that make them capable of handling tough terrain conditions. BharatBenz 3143 marks the first locally manufactured high-powered truck for the deep mining segment with 430 hp. It bridges the gap between premium trucks and underpowered trucks.
¨We anticipate demand for heavy-duty tippers used for overburden removal and coal mines of up to 120 m depth to double to 3,000 units by 2020. Productivity and reliability will become vital for the quicker completion of projects,¨ notes Laudan. Volvo offers 440 hp drivelines for optimum performance for demanding mining application on 8 x 4 configurations. It also offers 480/520 hp drivelines on 10 x 4 configurations.
Tata Motors Construk tipper trucks are suited for all terrains and have a quick turnaround time that leads to improved TCO. Tata Motors has recently launched a new range of 25-31 tonne Prima LX trucks and tippers, designed in line with the current industry focus on performance and fuel efficiency.
¨Power nodes vary from 230 hp to 280 hp, specially developed to extend the Prima advantage to a much larger customer base, requiring higher power-to-weight ratios and more fuel-efficient tippers,¨ explains Kaul.
Earlier models of the Tata Prima are also built for specific applications: The 3138.K for deep mining in coal, iron ore, lignite mines and for bulk limestone movement in off-road applications, and the LX 2528.K for off-road mining applications with a stronger chassis, mining tyres and durable suspension.
Scania has launched the P 410 mining tipper, which offers better fuel efficiency and excellent drivability with outstanding uptime. Hill hold, a special feature, helps control vehicular movement when tippers carrying load in a hilly terrain come to a halt on a slope. And the fleet management system (FMS) helps monitor driver operation and behaviour in real time.
Tightening emission norms
New emission requirements enable manufacturers to introduce the latest technology in vogue in other parts of the world. For instance, Volvo Group has already developed technology up to Bharat Stage (BS) VI (Euro VI), but has only introduced India to BS IV norms as these are coming into effect across the country.
As of today, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles´ entire range of above 9-49 tonne trucks is available in BS III to BS IV based on Bluetec technology and tested for Indian conditions. ¨Being a part of Daimler, technology for BS V norms are already available with us and could be easily implemented. Adopting more stringent norms will provide better fuel economy to customers,¨ observes Laudan.
With BS IV emission norms having come into force from October 1 in the northern zone, replacement demand will get a new boost. ¨Makers will be compelled to adjust their product lines and buyers will be forced to invest in new vehicles. The legislation will progressively cover the country over 2016. BS V may be another three years away,¨ says Saharia.
¨According to the National Auto Fuel Policy, BS IV standards are to be adopted across the country by 2017, and BS V by 2020,¨ adds Kaul.
¨Stepping up to BS V norms will depend on the availability of fuel across the country,¨ opines Rao from Volvo.
Implementing BS V or BS VI will also entail CV engines being fitted with a diesel-specific filter, which needs to be optimised for Indian road conditions, explains Kaul. ¨Technology has to be validated pre-implementation; it´s a complex process.¨ With demand and regulation evolving in the right direction, the industry will gradually see a wider line-up of products and features.
Hot selling features
Gross vehicle weight (gvw):
¨Three tonne gvw tippers with heavy-duty aggregates are in demand for deep mines while 25 tonne and 16 tonne gvw tippers are used in surface and shallow mines,¨ says Rajive Saharia, President-Trucks, Ashok Leyland.
¨This year, the market for 400+ hp tippers has seen a growth rate of 47 per cent YTD on the back of the government´s focus on the development of infrastructure and on the transparent, hassle-free allocation of mining coal blocks. We expect the market to continue to be buoyant next year,¨ says GV Rao, Vice President-Product Strategy, Brand & Marketing, Volvo Group Trucks Sales-Hub India.
A rock body capacity of 19.5 cu m is the most in vogue on the 8 x 4 tipper configuration for mining overburden. Higher capacity dump trucks on the 10 x 4 configuration have body capacities up to 26 cu m for mining overburden. Body capacities for coal haulage are to the tune of 32 cu m on the 8 x 4 configuration, according to Rao.
What on-highway and off-highway trucks work best?
While the normal payload capacity of off-highway trucks varies between 50 tonne and 240 tonne, 85 tonne off-highway trucks are the most popular based on fuel efficiency and economic batch size, says Samar Ghoshdastidar-Technical Director, Simplex Infrastructures Ltd. ¨We look for durability and simplified service and maintenance in an off-highway truck to reduce downtime and ensure long life with low operating cost,¨ he adds. ¨A special emergency brake arrangement over and above the normal brake is desirable.¨ In on-highway trucks, Simplex Infrastructure looks for all of the above features and fuel efficiency, ie, minimising fuel cost per tonne per km, as well as comfort and safety for the operator.
¨We prefer 25 tonne on-highway trucks based on economic batch size,¨ adds Ghoshdastidar. A prompt and good after-sales support network in all corners of the country and availability of spares at a reasonable cost within low lead time are also guiding factors while choosing a particular make and model of a truck.
What do customers look for?
¨We generally look at the performance, cost, and wear and tear, even when occasionally overloaded. MNC products are performance-oriented but mandate higher capital investments that negates performance aspects to a great extent,¨ says Vidhushekhar, Manager-Purchase, Valecha Engineering Ltd.
Sturdiness with maximum uptime and good backup service is also of prime importance. ¨We generally prefer 16-19 cu m capacity because these capacities can be operated in rough and narrow roads without any hindrance and can ply locally sans additional permissions or permits from the road traffic authorities,¨ he adds.