Pune-based Force Motors is in advanced stages of completing in-house development work on a completely new bus and utility vehicle that will be launched over the course of next two years.
The company, which is present in niche segments such as mini buses and off-road sports utility vehicles (SUVs), is also working on an electric version of the Traveller, the biggest revenue generator for the company.
In an exclusive chat with Moneycontrol, Prasan Firodia, managing director, Force Motors, said that some of its products are under testing.
“We have several platforms coming up between this and the next calendar year. We have a new bus and a completely new utility vehicle platform in the pipeline. The bus would be bigger than the current Traveller. The platform was developed in-house by Force Motors and its engine will be ours, built using Mercedes-Benz pedigree," said Firodia.
Force Motors came into the limelight when it achieved a rare feat of making engines for Mercedes-Benz and BMW, two biggest luxury car makers in India that control 70 per cent of the market. Locally assembled luxury cars such as Mercedes C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, BMW 3 Series, 5 Series, X3 and X5 run on engines provided by Force Motors.
Last month, Force Motors signed an agreement with Rolls Royce Power System to set up a Rs 300 crore joint venture plant for manufacturing engines for power generation, which will be operational by end of next year. The plant will be the only production base in the world for its kind of engines.
“The objective is to grow both vehicle and non-vehicle businesses. Presently, 60 per cent of our revenues come from vehicle business and the balance from aggregates such as components, engines," he said. As of last year, Force Motors had a market share of 55 per cent in the mini bus segment that it operates in.
By end of December, the company had clocked revenues of Rs 2,487 crore during the nine months, which was slightly down (2 per cent) compared to the same period in the previous year when it clocked Rs 2,535 crore. Net profit was down by 31 per cent to Rs 86 crore during the same period last year.
Keeping with the industry trend of electrification, Force Motors is talking to a few German companies for sourcing electric technology. It has set up a team of 45 people who would look at electric solutions for the future. The company has already started work on electrifying the Traveller, which is presently under validation.
“We are already working on electric vehicles. In fact our first electric Traveller is already on the road under validation. Its not 100% done so it can’t go into production. We have 45 people working on that. We are talking to some superior technology companies in Germany to see what we can get on electrification but its not going to happen overnight," Firodia added.
A few years ago, Force Motors had launched an SUV called Force One . They had also roped in actor Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador. Falling numbers forced the company to abandon the model and it then refocused on the niche segment of off-road SUVs under the age-old brand Gurkha.“Gurkha is a niche product, offroading vehicle not a standard soft road SUV product that we see today. Our focus will be to develop the Gurkha and also to export it," he said. Gurkha is a three and five door, five seater SUV, powered by a 2.6 litre, 85 bhp diesel engine.