With order book full, Volvo’s plants to be busy till March

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​Chennai: With its order book full with trucks and construction equipment, the Indian plants of Swedish automobile major Volvo will be busy till March, said a top official of Volvo Group India.

He also said the demand for commercial vehicles -goods carriers – is also picking up for VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd, a Volvo Group and Eicher Motors joint venture.

“The September-December 2020 sales will be better than that of corresponding period of 2019. Our order book for big trucks (used in coal mines) and construction equipment is good and will keep our factories busy for 4-5 months,” Kamal Bali, President of Volvo India Group said.

According to Bali, the orders for trucks are mainly from coal mines, heavy construction and for construction equipment from the road construction sector.

“There is pent up demand and it is being serviced now,” Bali added.

Volvo’s trucks are used in mines to remove the excavated soil.

Bali said construction equipment like excavators, wheel loaders, backhoe loaders are in demand from the road construction sector. Other major players in the construction equipment sector like Schwing Stetter India, Ajax Engineering, JCB, Tata Hitachi and L&T are also doing brisk business.

On Wednesday Larsen & Toubro (L&T) said it has secured one of its biggest ever order for supplying 46 units of Komatsu Mining Equipment to Tata Steel.

The order comprises 41 units of Komatsu HD785-7 (100 ton dump truck), three units of Komatsu WA900-3E0 (nine cum wheel loader) and two units of Komatsu D275A-5R (410HP crawler dozer). The deal includes supply of equipment and full maintenance contract for 60,000 hours of equipment operation.

Speaking of the commercial vehicles segment Bali said between FY 2015 and 2019 the sector logged 70 per cent growth and in FY 20 it went down by 40 per cent.

Bali expects the commercial vehicle sector to go down by 20 per cent in volumes over last year.

“However, from October onwards there is an uptrend in sales of commercial vehicles and group company VE Commercial Vehicles is logging increased numbers,” Bali said.

Last month VE Commercial Vehicles sold 4,200 units as compared to 3,755 units sold in October 2019. This includes 4,130 units of Eicher brand and 70 units of Volvo brand.

“The fortunes of the bus segment are expected to revive only after the arrival of the vaccine for coronavirus as people have restricted their travel,” Bali said.

According to him, the migrant workers are now coming back and production activity is expected to pick up faster.

Bali said Volvo’s Global Competency Centre at Bengaluru has reached almost the pre-Covid levels of activity.

On the learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, Bali said Volvo India during June and July faced some issues as many workers were not able to come.

“It was then we decided to upskill the available workforce in other areas of operations. We have now decided to multi-skill our workforce so that an individual is not linked to one particular job,” Bali said.

He said Covid-19 proved that work from home was possible.