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Hinduja flagship firm Ashok Leyland plans to launch up to 18 different types of trucks this year under its new brand for commercial vehicles, 'Captain'.
The company, which today unveiled the tipper model Captain 2523, priced Rs 24 lakh upwards, is increasing the prices of the existing small trucks by up to Rs 30,000 this month.
It has invested about Rs 600-700 crore in the development of the new range of medium and heavy commercial vehicles under the Captain range, endorsed by Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"During the calendar year 2014, we plan to launch a total of 18 different types of trucks for different applications under the Captain range," Ashok Leyland Managing Director Vinod K Dasari told PTI here.
The Captain series will be available in 16-49 tonnes in various types such as tippers, tractors and haulage vehicles.
"These trucks will be rolled out from our Pantnagar plant. We have developed this range on our own, apart from some help from an Italian firm for cabin design and a UK firm for structural engineering, at an investment of Rs 600-700 crore," he added.
Besides the domestic market, the company plans to export the Captain range of trucks to Middle East, Latin America, Africa and South East Asian countries as completely built units, Dasari said.
When asked about the current market situation, he said: "It has been on a continuous slide for 22 months with November (being) the worst. December was slightly better."
Expecting a slight improvement in demand as usually happens in the fourth quarter of every fiscal, Dasari said Ashok Leyland will increase production of its commercial vehicles.
"We have a total capacity of 10,000 units per month across our plants but we were doing 2,000-3,000 units in single shift due to the slowdown.
"In the fourth quarter of this fiscal, we are increasing that to 4,000-5,000 units with double shifts in some plants," Dasari said.
When asked about sales expectations going forward, Ashok Leyland, Head Trucks, Rajive Saharia said: "It's difficult to predict as there is negative sentiments because of the overall economic situation and also due to stoppage of mining and other infrastructure projects."
The company's aim will be to add value to its end customer and grow profitably with them, he added.
When asked about the company's investment on new products, Ashok Leyland Managing Director Vinod K Dasari said: "Over these five years both in terms of products as well as processes to make these kind