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Interview: Nalin Mehta, MD and CEO, Mahindra Trucks and Buses

Anand Mohan  | Updated: August 28, 2013, 11:54 AM IST

You have given yourself three years to turn the business around and enter the fast growing ICV and MCV space. How are plans shaping up?

The three year timeframe is a little played out by the media. What we are actually saying is that we are committed to the business and we are not here for the short term. We also want to enter the ICV and MCV segment and have already started feasibility studies to increase the range in these segments. As the environment improves, we will invest over Rs 300 crore in this business.

Nalin Mehta, MD & CEO, MTBLNalin Mehta, MD & CEO, MTBL

What is the equation with Navistar? Where is their involvement post the buyout?

Our trucks use components sourced in India. The ownership of all the IPs was with Mahindra Navistar. These IPs now rest with us. All new product development will not require any involvement from Navistar. We have complete capability to develop ICVs and MCVs with our pool of highly talented engineers. In addition we can bank on Mahindra Research Valley for further support. In terms of engines we are using Navistar designs and for that we have a perpetual technology assistance agreement with Navistar. As long as we use these engines to make trucks under our own brand, we can do anything with them.

When the BSIV emission norms are enforced, will Navistar have to work on the engines to qualify for these norms?

We are working on it completely with our suppliers.

You will require a new set of engines for the ICV and MCV segment. What are your plans?

For the LCV segment we are well covered and for the two new segments we are looking at engine partners but anything further cannot be mentioned as of now.

You have mentioned before that you will have a partial freedom for exports. What does that exactly mean?

If we want to enter the Americas, we will have to do it with Navistar. Rest of the world is open to us to enter independently or in any way we wish.

Since you are finding a foothold in the Indian market, would it be premature to think about full-fledged exports?

You are right. But there are a few markets that we are already looking at like South Africa for example where we are testing our products.

Will the 49 tonne tractor-trailer be one of the first product with which you will enter South Africa? What is the status on the 49-tonner?

No. The South African market is ideal for 16-25 tonne CVs. The 49-tonne tractor-trailer is under development with a launch slated for Q1 2014.

One advantage MTBL has is the Mahindra network. How do you plan to leverage it?

We actually have a unique advantage in this aspect. The car and UV business is well established and so is the tractor business. The network developed also deal in cars and tractors so they have the confidence in the brand and are part of our dealer family for a while. So in terms of training, they are well educated to deal with sales and service. As of now, any Mahindra truck on the golden quadrilateral has a turnaround time of 48 hours with service personnel reaching the truck within four hours.

Our multilingual 24x7 call centre is equipped with engineers so the driver can call and explain in his language the problem he is facing. This ensures accurate diagnosis which in turn saves time when the technician reaches the truck.

Any more products besides the 49-tonne tractor-trailer that you plan to launch?

We are looking at launching a lot of variants in the next four months. Then, as we have mentioned, we will enter the ICV and MCV space. The MCV segment is diminishing but there isn't too much investment required for the segment since it is incremental from an ICV and a LCV.

How do you see the CV industry shaping up? The past couple of years have seen an almost 50 percent drop in sales...

It has. So acceptance of products from fairly new players is lesser as transporters don't want to try new things. When the market improves, customers will be willing to look at alternatives. With us in the reckoning and a few more CV manufacturers in the country, established players have had to up their game and so the customer is the one who has benefitted the most. In spite of two downturns last five years, the CAGR has improved. I believe in the India growth story and Mahindra will be a prominent player in the industry.

Originally carried in Auto Monitor.

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