The big lie about King Long AC buses that actually are made in Punjab
Moneylife Digital Team 29 August 2012

The AC buses plying on the BEST network in Mumbai, known as King Long buses, are in fact manufactured by JCBL in Mohali and have nothing to do with the Chinese bus maker, except few parts here and there

Commuters travelling by the AC buses run by the BEST Undertaking in Mumbai are furious at learning that the King Long buses that cost around Rs40 to Rs45 lakh are not even made in China but in our own Mohali and that too by a local manufacturer using few parts from the Chinese company. Mumbai Mirror revealed this today after an RTI application.


“Investigations carried out by this paper have revealed that King Long buses, sold to us as top-of-the-line Chinese import, are not King Long buses at all. The purple buses you see breaking down every now and then have nothing to do with the Chinese bus maker Xiamen King Long United Automotive Co, except a mechanical part here and there. The rickety clunkers that have given the usually efficient BEST a bad name are Cerita buses put together by an Indian company JayCee Coach Builders (JCBL) at Lalru, Mohali in Punjab,” the newspaper said.


Transport experts are also furious at this blatant lie and misuse of a brand name. “This (the revelation) is undoubtedly a terrible stuff. As a large buyer of buses, BEST should take due care in the specifications, technical audit for all the buses that it buys,” says Ashok Datar, a transport expert.


"We need to understand the cost of so called King Long buses and what would be the cost of actual King Long buses," says Mr Datar, adding that there is definitely a need that Mumbai can get a number of low cost but good quality AC buses. "AC buses, in addition to the luxury high end buses, costs about Rs1 crore. Investment in such buses is equal to Rs3 lakh per seat which is more than Rs2 lakh per seat for an ordinary AC car. We know that for a bus, cost of interest, depreciation and employees works out to be about 2.5 times that of fuel cost. Hence cost of a bus is more important than the cost of fuel," he said.

Uttam Khobragade, the then GM of BEST, labelled these AC buses as ‘King Long’


During the inauguration ceremony on 15 December 2007, both the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Uttam Khobragade, the then GM of BEST referred to these buses as King Long, says Mumbai Mirror. "Interestingly, though the first bus carried the Cerita logo on its nose, it was not clearly visible because of the elaborate floral decoration. The media - both print and electronic - lapped up the Chinese connection and in those days, when Shanghai was Mumbai's aspiration, the lie suited everyone," the report says.

For years Mumbai has been sold the lie of these haphazardly put-together vehicles with a ridiculously high incidence of breakdowns—4,037 in two-and-a-half years for 285 buses—boasting of a Chinese lineage, the newspaper report said.


Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), which manages the public transportation on city roads has been lying throughout the years, officially and unofficially about these problematic AC buses. Speaking with Mumbai Mirror, BEST General Manager OP Gupta, who took over recently, admitted that the 285 buses known for their poor performance in his AC fleet are Cerita and not King Long. “Yes, these are Cerita buses and not King Long. Their warranty period has expired and we have taken a decision to not buy any of these buses ever again. In fact, when I took over, I stopped delivery of 38 of these buses that still had to be acquired,” he told the newspaper.


Following a fire mishap in 2010, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) decided to rest all its fleet of about 15 of these so-called King Long buses. Similarly, these buses while plying in Mumbai also faced same situation, one at Cadbury Junction in Thane and another near Huma Ad Labs on LBS Road. But BEST still continues to ply these buses across the city.


An activist who has campaigned for an efficient school bus system in Mumbai, says, "In order to encourage usage of public transport, an efficient public transport service is an absolute necessity. The fleet of buses, therefore should, most certainly be safe, durable and comfortable for the public to avail of this service. BEST are now in deficit of buses in their fleet, therefore the facility offered to the public is also greatly insufficient!"


Khobragade, the then GM of BEST when these AC buses were introduced in services, told the newspaper that since the matter is too old, he can't remember the specifics.

A retired IAS officer who has worked with Khobragade says, "I agree that Khobragade is 'corrupt' and may have conspired on the King Long deal. But the question is will the Government prosecute him?"

According to news reports, last month around 100 King Long buses were used during the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games. About 10 XMQ6127 buses were even appointed as franchised vehicles by Olympic partner Samsung Company to serve OCOG officials, athletes, referees and volunteers.

10 years ago
I think this article has a lot of factual inaccuracies and reflects poorly on the journalism.

The BEST buses have been carrying Cerita badging clearly from day 1. They are colloquially referred to as King Longs because the critical mechanical chassis components from King Long.

The bus is assembled by JCBL and fitted with a Cummins engine (which even King Long buses in other countries have in different configurations). The bus is rebranded as Cerita.

The earlier batch of Cerita buses did have King Long badging. Case in point, note the King Long logos below the windscreen on this MSRTC bus

The comparison pic used in the beginning of the article is also incorrect. You are comparing an intercity King Long bus with an intracity Cerita bus.

The Cerita equivalent of the intercity King Long bus is the one in the link below:

So, it's quite clear that King Long wants to shrug off responsibility. Please consult some automotive journalists (and not old-school transport experts) before publishing such articles and sensationalise them by calling a "big lie" et al.
Replied to sp comment 10 years ago
Dear SP or whatever is your 'real name',
We are aware about your location and venting out at each story at Moneylife. So please stop pretending and posting nasty things using different names.
Coming back to your comment...
We had clearly mentioned that the points were raised by Mumbai Mirror. However, you found only Moneylife to 'teach' journalism standards!
Anyway, your logic of using 'critical mechanical chassis component' and hence the reference as King Long is quite funny. By this logic, all the Tatas, Leylands or Marutis should be colloquially referred by the chassis maker's name, right?
Once again, read the story carefully. We had never said that the buses were not made by JCBL. We said the buses made by JCBL as Cerita were labelled as King Long to fool Mumbaikars for a long time.
The experts quoted in the article are working in this particular field since ages. And not like you who pretend to have "knowledge and authority on each and every subject" that Moneylife writes about.
We once again request you to stop 'the hit job' of posting unwarranted and nasty comments on this site, on behalf of anyone.
Black Mamba
10 years ago
File a complaint with CBI (EOW) under PCA 1988 if you have the evidence.
10 years ago
I hope somebody files a PIL and brings justice to Khobragade's corruption. He must pay for the nation's loss.
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