Volvo expects to roll out CNG buses by third quarter

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Bangalore, Jan 12 (PTI) Swedish bus maker Volvo todaysaid it expected to introduce CNG variant of its 8400 citybuses in the country by the third quarter of the year.

Mumbai and Delhi could possibly be the cities where theCNG variant would be rolled out first, a top official of VolvoBus Corporation (VBC) President Hakan Karlsson said.

He, however, refused to divulge any details of order bookfor the same.

The buses, which were undergoing field trials in Delhi,are expected to cost 15 to 20 per cent more than the currentdiesel version, he said.

The buses, to be built at Volvo''s Hoskote facility, areexpected to help the company garner better share of the citybus segment in the country.

The bus maker also said that it has the hybrid technologyplatform in place.

The platform involves a blend of electric and dieseltechnology, which could ensure 40 per cent cost efficiency butwould cost 50 per cent more.

Talking about Volvo''s goals for the India market, Hakansaid, "India will be one of our biggest operation goingforward. We will localise on current global platform and adoptto meet Indian and Asian market needs."

The company plans to develop India as one among its fourimportant global hub. The other three being Europe, China andone around Mexico.

"India would be the global hub for Volvo buses", in termsof production, export and developing products, Hakkan said.

"We are investing in capabilities. We will build a stronghub in India to cater to both the domestic and global market",he said.

Volvo is looking at producing 5000 units from India by2015 and a made-in-India product by the same time frame forthe domestic and global market.

Hakan said bus depot service would be launched with the help of its private partners with Volvo offering the skill,expertise and training.

Volvo also planned to introduce new products and featuresto meet new demands and to increase it headcount from thecurrent 1,000 to 5,000 by the next couple of years, includingenhancing its R and D team.

Welcoming the entry of new competitors, Hakan said, "It isgood thing to have competition. That drives the industry andthe bus segment", he said.

Commenting on Volvo''s expertise in the Bus Rapid TransportSystem globally, he said it had helped various cities to buildthe sytem and in India it was ready to chip in. But the firstrequisite for the same was infrastructure in terms ofhaving dedicated lanes for the bus services. Convincing thegovernment to try it out and using a pilot as a proof of theconcept could help in initiating the system here, he said.

Talking in terms of the order book, Passey said, "Ourorder book is secure for the next four to six months. There ishealthy pipeline for the rest of the year".

Volvo has over 75 per cent share in the luxury inter-cityAC coach segmnent in India and over 50 per cent share in theAC diesel floor city buses. Volvo Buses India will step up itsexports from 2011.

Exports will account for 25 to 30 per cent of total volumesover the next few years from the current five per cent,officials said.

The company grew by about 30 per cent in 2009 and expects agrowth of 15 to 20 per cent in overall and soft services togive 50 per cent of the revenues in 2013-14.

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