Ashok Leyland unveils STILE multi-purpose vehicle

Chennai, July 16 (IANS) Unveiling its 7-8 seater multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) STILE, the Hinduja group's Ashok Leyland Ltd will be soon launching more models to expand its product portfolio and cater to the demands to different market segments, said a top company official.

"We wanted to be in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment. We will cover all the market segments. We have lined up lot of product launches like BOSS, Partner and N-Truck," said Ashok Leyland chairman Dheeraj G. Hinduja.

BOSS is an intermediate commercial vehicle in the 8-15 tonne and the N-Truck will be in the 16-49 tonne gross vehicle weight segment while Partner will be another LCV.

The 7-8 seater STILE, set to hit the roads later this year, was developed by Ashok Leyland-Nissan Motor Company joint venture. The vehicle will be rolled out of Nissan's manufacturing plant at Oragadam near here.

The vehicle is targeted urban and rural areas, hotel shuttles, taxi service, ambulance, panel vans, courier services and inter/intra city travel.

STILE will be available in both Diesel and CNG versions, with a wide choice of seating options of 2 and 3 rows.

Queried about the similarity between Nissan's Evalia and its STILE, Ashok Leyland vice chairman V Sumantran said: "Globally automobile makers have identified the need for common platforms to build vehicles. Evalia is more for personal use whereas STILE is more for commercial use."

"The venture is not for cross badging of models. There are some customer groups that Ashok Leyland and Nissan Motor can't reach individually but together they can," added Nissan Motor Company's executive vice president Andy Palmer.

Speaking at the function, G.P.Hinduja, co-chairman, Hinduja group said one of the five guiding principles of the group is partnership for growth. He expressed happiness at the way the group's partnership with Nissan is progressing.

Questioned about Renault-Nissan's experience with partnering with Mahindra and Mahindra and Bajaj Auto, its CEO Carlos Ghosn said from each partnership, there are learnings.

He said the joint venture with Ashok Leyland has resulted the development of three vehicles - Evalia (Nissan's), Dost and STILE (Ashok Leyland's). He said new products, engines are under development.

On the possibility of exports of vehicles made by the joint venture, Palmer said the Dost LCV is being exported to neighbouring markets.

Projecting the Indian car market at four million units by 2016, Ghosn said Nissan will be launching 10 new models by that time.

According to him, the Renault-Nissan alliance plans to invest $2.5 billion over the next four years time in India.

The Franco-Japanese alliance has a car plant near here rolling out Nissan and Renault badged vehicles. The alliance partners have invested $2.5 billion till date.

The alliance is developing a new platform called CMF-A (common module family) to take on the competitions at the entry level car segment as well as cater to the high growth markets like Indonesia, Russia and Brazil.

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