Surge in transport business gives a fillip to commercial vehicle (CV) sales volumes, lending support to the revival of the Indian automobile industry
When this writer, Veeresh Malik, was driving near the India-Nepal border, he observed a lot of movement of bare chassis for heavy vehicles on the roads. He stopped at a roadside dhaba to chat with some truck drivers who had picked up these chassis for converting into trucks in some cities in Punjab. It turned out that these truck drivers were minting money for the first time in years, earning a premium on the allotment and purchase and then subsequent resale of these chassis, which till a few months ago were lying unsold all over the country.
These are irrefutable signs that the CV segment, which hitherto was faltering in the wake of a recession, is slowly finding its feet. The transport business has been a loyal and faithful tracker of the direction in which the winds are blowing. That a boom is on is visible on our roads, with trucks plying to and fro, especially the roads in the interior, which by-pass the bigger cities. The CV segment is definitely revving up again, providing strong momentum to the domestic automobile industry.
Another strong indicator of the current boom in the transport business is the quick turnaround time being witnessed by truck drivers. Especially in some of the new seaports in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, their turnaround time has seen a multi-fold jump. These are drivers who, at one time, were spending weeks in Mumbai or JNPT waiting for their trucks to get unloaded. They now talk of three-five round trips in a fortnight from Punjab to ports in Gujarat, with cargo available both ways.
Recent industry data also lends support to this argument. Tata Motors, India’s largest CV manufacturer by volumes, has registered phenomenal growth in this segment. Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle (M&HCV) sales have jumped 116% year-on-year. Although this astounding rise is in part due to the low base effect of last year’s slump, the 5% growth in month-on-month sales indicates that the segment has finally come out of its shackles.
An Anand Rathi research report confirms, “In November 2009, Tata Motors’ volume increased 65.5% y-o-y to 54,108 units. While volume growth appears higher due to the lower base of November 2008, growth is also being driven by better demand, particularly for M&HCVs.” The report also mentions that Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) sustained the good volume momentum, with 62.8% y-o-y growth. Going forward, the analyst expects the segment’s recovery to sustain.
— Veeresh Malik with Sanket Dhanorkar
The launch of Uninor’s services is taking place eight months after the Telenor Group finalised the transaction with Unitech Group and made the first investment in Uninor on 20 March 2009
Telenor Group's Indian mobile operation, Uninor, announced on Thursday the launch of its mobile services across seven Indian telecom circles—Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West and Bihar (including Jharkhand)—that covers about 600 million people.
"Establishing a mobile operation of this scale in record time is truly an impressive achievement. I am confident that Uninor will keep the same high momentum going forward to become a preferred provider of mobile services to the Indian population and a significant mobile operator in the Indian market. The Telenor Group is committed to this operation, and will back Uninor with our capabilities and vast experience from other markets to support a successful entry into India," said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, chief executive and president, Telenor Group.
India, with its population of 1.2 billion, represents a market with high degree of diversity across various regions. To cater to different needs, Uninor has established a decentralised and empowered organisation with 11 regional hub offices to get closer to its customers, Telenor said in a release.
"The Indian organisational model represents a new and innovative approach to setting up a light and cost-efficient telecom operation,” said Mr Baksaas. "I believe that Uninor's organisational approach will make them faster and more agile than a traditional mobile operator," he added.
Stein-Erik Vellan, managing director, Uninor said, "With launch in seven circles and roaming agreements in place for the rest, we have started our service in India on day one as a pan-Indian national operator.”
Telenor, the joint venture partner of India's Unitech Wireless, is Asia's second largest mobile service provider with 172 million subscribers. Telenor is the majority partner in the joint venture and holds 67.25% stake in Unitech Wireless.
In October 2008, it bought 60% stake in Unitech Wireless for Rs6,120 crore. But later, Unitech, the cash-strapped realtor, agreed to give away an additional 7.25% stake to Telenor.
Last month, Telenor cut down its earmarked capital expenditure (capex) for India by Rs3,500 crore to Rs12,000 crore spread over the next five years citing lower equipment costs.
The company said that it would go for a focused roll-out in a majority of the 22 circles in India, while meeting licence obligations in all circles which would also save operational costs.
Telenor is the world’s sixth largest mobile service provider, and has operations in Northern Europe, Eastern Europe and across Asia. — Yogesh Sapkale
The market is trying to fight off a slew of bad news
Over the past fortnight, we have seen...