Swedish commercial vehicle maker Scania on Thursday launched its intercity 'Metrolink' buses in India, joining the likes of Mercedes, Volvo and Tata Motors in fight for market share in the fast accelerating premium/luxury bus market in the country.
Around 1,000 premium buses are sold in India each year and the size is expected to grow to 5,000 in five years, on the back of increasing demand from burgeoning middle class and improving road infrastructure across the country. This has prompted the big multi-nationals as well as home grown Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland to jump into this segment.
However, the market is currently dominated by Scania's Swedish rival Volvo, which sells as much as 7 out of every 10 premium buses sold in the country. So the drive is certainly not going to be easy for Scania or any new entrant in the segment.
Scania has launched three models of its Metrolink buses including the 45-seater double axle and the 49 and 53 seater multi-axle models.
The Scania Metrolink is introduced exclusively for the Indian market at this point and in few years, it will grow into a global range of complete vehicles with network support, it said.
The buses will be manufactured at Scania's facility near Bangalore, where the company is investing around Rs 250 crore.
First deliveres of the buses to customers will start in mid-2013, which will be completely built units, and the assembly of coaches at the Bangalore plant will start in early 2014.
The production of truck chassis is expected to begin from June and the bus body factory is expected to start from December, said Anders Grundstromer, MD, Scania Commercial Vehicles India, told reporters.
In the first phase, the plant will have a production capacity of 2,500-3,000 truck and bus chassis and 1,000 bus bodies per year.
Once it reaches full capacity, in the second phase, the company could double that capacity, he added.
He said the company is also looking at the city bus segment in India, but would currently only focus on rolling out the intercity buses.
Scania has been present in India since 2007 through a partnership with engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro. L&T currently operates around 10 Scania service workshops at various mining sites in the country.
Scania Commercial Vehicles India was established in 2011. It has sold around 800 mining trucks in the country so far, and in December last year launched a range of on-road haulage trucks.