With growing emphasis on inland manufacturing and infrastructure, the commercial vehicle segment in India witnessed significant growth in recent years. In spite of being the smallest segment within the domestic automotive industry, the production volume of commercial vehicles across the subcontinent was the fourth largest in Asia in 2018. That year, over a million commercial vehicles were sold in the country. Commercial vehicle sales had been on an incline until the economic slowdown in 2019 caught up with the automotive sector.
The domestic commercial vehicle market in India was dominated by Tata Motors, with a share of about 44 percent. It was the largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the country. Other market players included Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland and Eicher Motors. The impact of the economic slowdown was the sharpest drop in monthly car sales in 18 years, reflecting in Tata’s sales figures as well. The country had previously been on track to become the third largest automotive market globally.
However, the demand for vehicles was expected to remain muted until early 2020 until the introduction of the new emission standards in April. The emission norms known as BS 6, short for Bharat Stage 6, were planned in order to reduce pollution levels across the Indian cities, which were one of the most polluted cities across the globe. Several automotive OEMs had started working on new models in compliance with the new standards. In 2018, the truck and bus segment of the Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles group had already launched new CNG variants for the Pro 1000 series to strengthen the company’s green portfolio. Ashok Leyland was the first Indian manufacturer to receive the green light for its heavy-duty trucks in accordance with the new regulations. In 2019, the VEVC group also announced a new range of light-duty trucks that comply with the BS 6 regulations.
Furthermore, the focus of the government has been on electrification of vehicles. The initial push was towards the two and three wheelers across the country. Nonetheless, to tone down the dependence on fossil fuels, a keener eye towards improved public transportation and electrification in other vehicle segments is needed. The first steps in this direction were seen in Tata Motors unveiling their first electric truck in 2020 at the Auto Expo. However, it remains to be seen how sustainability in the field is tackled within the sphere of the resources and infrastructure available in India.