CHENNAI: Ashok Leyland will start manufacturing its range of electric and hybrid buses from India by early 2015. The decision, in line with Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign, will see the company bring in a range of products from its UK arm, Optare, into India.
Managing Director of Ashok Leyland Vinod Dasari, speaking to reporters during the company visit of the UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable, pointed out that Optare has been very successful in developing and marketing several versions of electric and hybrid buses.
“It is our intention now to bring this technology to India to toe our PM’s ‘Make in India’ policy initiative. We will showcase the first Optare vehicle in India at the Bus Expo on January 22, at Delhi and we will start manufacturing the electric and hybrid versions in India some time next year,” he said.
The manufacturing line for the electric range will be developed in either one of the company’s two plants - one in Alwar, Rajasthan and the other in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu. The company had not yet reached a decision on which one would be selected yet. The company is also mulling manufacturing the buses in their West Asian region plants.
Optare currently sells around 100 units in the UK a year and it would need to invest in battery handling capabilities for these buses, since the buses themselves do not require much in the way of investments, except for retooling.
The range, which will be marketed under the Ashok Leyland badge in India, will first see the launch of the Solo and Versa models. The hybrid versions of the buses will be fitted with a diesel engine and be manufactured completely in India. The electric components, including the motor and the drive, are to be imported from the UK, the US or China.
The company is already in talks with several state governments on the infrastructure for these buses and operating them and Dasari said that many have shown interest.
The buses have a full charge mileage of around 200-300 km and cost anywhere between Rs 2-3 crore. The company will also consider exporting the Indian made bus range to nearby markets.