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This week in Auto: COVID-19 vaccine transport takes centre stage

Here is what made headlines in the auto space during the week

January 23, 2021 / 02:50 PM IST
 
 
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As India begins to vaccinate its people against COVID-19, efficient transportation of vaccine to various parts of the country under most suitable conditions to maintain the vaccine’s efficacy now takes centre stage. Every truck maker in the country now offers refrigerated containers which can transport goods at even negative 20 degrees. More on this later in the copy. But first let us see what made headlines in the auto space during the week.

BMW to launch 25 products

German luxury automotive group BMW plans to bring 25 new products in India this year as it looks to accelerate sales growth, leaving behind the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company, which on Thursday launched its BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine priced between Rs 51.5 lakh and Rs 53.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), expects growth in India to be in double digits this year.

Hero MotoCorp rolls out 100 millionth two-wheeler

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Hero MotoCorp, the country’s largest two-wheeler maker, on Thursday said it has crossed the 100 million (10 crore) cumulative production milestone since its inception in 1984, and announced to introduce over 10 products annually in the next five years to keep its growth momentum.

The company rolled out the 100 millionth unit, Xtreme 160R model, from its manufacturing facility in Haridwar.

Maruti, Tata Motors hike prices

India's biggest automaker, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL), on January 18 announced that it has increased its vehicle prices by up to Rs 34,000 ex-showroom in Delhi.

Tata Motors on Friday said it has increased prices of its passenger vehicle (PV) range by up to Rs 20,000 to offset rising input costs and semiconductors. The company joins others like Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra & Mahindra, which have also hiked their vehicles' prices.

Bajaj Auto may increase prices

Bajaj Auto, one of India’s largest two-wheeler makers, may have to increase prices of its motorcycles if raw material prices continue to head north as they have in the past few weeks.

The Pune-based manufacturer of Pulsar and KTM range of bikes has seen costs rise by 2-4 percent since November led by a jump in the price of raw materials like steel and precious metals. This has forced the company to increase prices of its products in the range of 1-3 percent.

Ceat hikes capex for FY22

The strong comeback in demand after the lifting of the lockdown, which is expected to continue into FY22, has led tyremaker Ceat to hike its capital expenditure (capex) for the coming fiscal year by 40 percent to Rs 700 crore.

The Mumbai-based company is running all its plants at full capacity, seven days a week, but is still falling short of supplies. Speaking to analysts, senior executives at Ceat stated that the capex for next year will take care of capacity expansion.

Motherson to buy two Turkish companies

Samvardhana Motherson Automotive Systems Group BV (SMRPBV) on January 18 announced the acquisition of a majority stake in two Turkey-based makers of moulded parts, sub-assemblies for mirrors and lighting systems for a base enterprise value of 21.78 million euros.

SMRPBV will acquire a 75 percent stake in Plast Met Plastik Metal San. İmalatveTic.A.Ş.(PM-Bursa) and Plast Met Kalıp San.veTic.A.Ş.(PM-Istanbul), together known as Plast Met Group (Turkey) through its subsidiary Samvardhana Motherson Reflectec (SMR).

Truck makers step up reefer truck supplies for vaccine transport

With the start of the first phase of the country-wide vaccination drive against COVID-19, Daimler Indian Commercial Vehicles (DICV) and Motherson Sumi launched a customised refrigerated (reefer) truck to transport the vaccines on January 22.

While the 28 tonne BharatBenz truck is made by the Chennai-based truck and bus maker DICV, the refrigerated container mounted on it is developed by the Motherson Sumi Group, India’s largest auto component maker.

The purpose-built truck can store vaccines up to a maximum of negative 20 degree which can be monitored at all stages of the delivery process. The truck comes with an app that monitors the temperature during the entire transit process to maintain the efficacy of the vaccine.

On the same day commercial vehicle (CV) segment market leader Tata Motors, whose market share in the CV segment has been under fire, announced that its reefer trucks are also available on sale. Its vaccine trucks and vans are available on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal for purchase.

Tata vehicles are available in a variety of capacities and tonnage points, with 20 and 32 cuM refrigerated trucks in the Intermediate Commercial Vehicle (ICV) and Medium Commercial Vehicle (MCV) segments, respectively, with the availability of insulated vans in the ICV and MCV segments. Insulated vaccine vans in the Small Commercial Vehicle (SCV) and Pick-up (PU) range are also on offer, to facilitate last-mile and for rural transportation of vaccines.

Since the market size for trucks is smaller compared to segments like tippers and haulage trucks or trucks that cater to the e-commerce segment manufacturers do not make these trucks in-house.

Like DICV, Tata Motors provides the vehicle body with engine which is then fitted with a refrigerated load body. Ashok Leyland, Mahindra & Mahindra and VE Commercial Vehicles also do provide truck bodies suited for fitting refrigerated containers.

As per estimates there are around 10,000-13,000 reefer trucks of all sizes available in the market presently. However, due to additional demand for transporting the COVID-19 vaccine there has been a shortage. Reefer trucks are used for transporting milk products, fast perishable goods like vegetables and fruits and medicines.
Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Jan 23, 2021 02:50 pm

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