Truck and bus maker Ashok Leyland is planning to dip into its light commercial vehicle joint venture with Nissan for products and platforms for its defence application business, a niche segment that top officials say will grow 20% year-on year. The defence business is critical for the company because it is counter cyclical and can help neutralise the current downturn in the commercial vehicles market which has hit both its volumes and profitability.
The company is approaching the defence business with a two-pronged strategy - have a wider portfolio of products beyond its old warhorse Stallion and get into more application-based global tie-ups to bid for more tenders. Speaking to TOI, V Sumantran, vice chairman, Ashok Leyland (ALL), said Our JV with Nissan is not involved in the defence business because it is an ALL business but we can buy any light commercial vehicles out of the JV and use it for whatever application we require for the defence business. However, we cant dip into Nissans portfolio of products only the JV portfolio.
The LCV range could come in handy as ALL pursues its defence business. On the one hand, we are increasing the number of vehicle platforms beyond the Stallion and on the other we are partnering with global defence players like Saab and Nexter Systems to offer mobility solutions to their weapons platform. That way we will be able to multiply our defense opportunities, said Sumantran. Already ALL has rolled out products above and below the Stallion - the Super Stallion 6x6, 8x8, 10x10 and the 2.5 tonne Garuda. The latter is derived from ALLs Partner LCV for light loads and para-military application.