CaptainIn a bid to buck the slowdown trend, Ashok Leyland, one of the leading commercial vehicle manufacturers in India, has launched its all new ‘Captain Series’. Unveiled by Mahendra Singh Dhoni on 6 January, the series, with its Captain 2523 Tipper, will include tippers, tractors and haulage vehicles. Introducing the series, Vinod K. Dasari, Managing Directorr Ashok Leyland, said, “The series is aptly named Captain, as it will take the flagship position for Ashok Leyland.” He added that the “Captain series has a cabin which is newly designed and developed  specifically suited to customer needs as opposed to adapting an existing cabin design.

The price of the Captain Series falls in the bracket of Rs 22 lakh to Rs 35 lakh. The Captain comes with heavy-duty aggregates and a customised powertrain and will be available across the 16 to 49 tonne GVW. The vehicle is powered by company’s ‘H-Series’ CRDI engine. Mated to a 9-speed gear box with a 8.83 : 1 gear ratio, the vehicle is suitable to carry heavy load even on steep inclines effortlessly. The vehicle is also engineered to address the increasing demand for commercial vehicles that give better fuel economy.

The company claimed that the vehicle has undergone over 2 million kilometres of on-road equivalent trials and reliability testing and has recorded consistent availability during customer trials in mining. Adding to the high-performance engine and transmission, Captain Series has huge emphasis on the driver comfort and has numerous creature-comforts. It boasts of a DIN bin slots, USB port and infotainment system and a tiltable and telescopic steering adjustments and a mechanically suspended seats for a more pliant ride. Another feature that makes it a sturdy vehicle for long distance travelling is the on-board diagnostic port. It is a 16-pin diagnostic system that will warn the driver about impending problems.

The launch of captain series comes close on heels to Ashok Leylands unveiling of its Boss series in September. The two launches in quick successions come at a time when the commercial vehicle industry is reeling under slowdown. This has led the industry experts to question the decision. However, Dasari, calling this an opportunity said, “Yes, the industry has seen close to 25 percent slowdown. But this also means that there is no other way but upwards from here.” He added that when the market rebounds, the one who has entered the market first will reap the benefits.

The company has pumped in nearly Rs 600 crores in to the development of the product. It will be launching close to 18 variants on this platform in the coming year.  Keeping in the mind the troubling times for the whole of auto industry, the launch also holds special significance for the component industry as close to 98 percent of the vehicle is built indigenously. Ashok Leyland is also setting up cab repair facilities at many of its dealerships across the country. At present, it has a network of over 475 service outlets.

By :  J Srikant


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