NEW DELHI -- India's largest truck maker, Tata Engineering & Locomotive Co. Ltd. (TELCO), said on Friday it expected its commercial vehicle sales growth to slow to nine to 10 percent in 2003-04 after last year's industry boom.
TELCO's domestic sales of commercial vehicles, or trucks and buses combined, soared 30.1 percent in the past year to March 2003, industry data shows. The sales surge was fuelled by robust replacement buying and demand from the construction industry.
"From 30 percent industry growth in the past year, growth will be much more modest this year," Ravi Kant, TELCO's executive director for commercial vehicles, told Reuters on the sidelines of a news conference to launch a new pick-up truck.
"We expect industry sales to grow by seven to eight percent and we should do better than that, close to nine to 10 percent," he said, adding growth could be better if India's monsoon rains were near normal and overall economic growth was robust.
India's monsoon rains, crucial to its agriculture-dependent economy, are a key influence on overall demand.
TELCO, part of the powerful Tata group, declares its results for 2002-03 on Tuesday. The company is also the country's largest maker of buses and the third-largest maker of both cars and utility vehicles.
Industry officials say the rise in truck sales in the past fiscal year was fuelled by replacement demand after two years of poor buying and a shift to larger multi-axle vehicles that can match the railways in cost per-tonne of payload carried.
The movement of large quantities of cement and steel to feed a spurt in expressway building and a rise in housing construction had also spurred sales.
Ravi Kant said TELCO would continue with plans to cut costs and was aiming at savings of two to three percent this year.
The truckmaker also expected to win market share of about two percent in the commercial vehicle segment where its main competitor is Madras-based Ashok Leyland Ltd., the Indian flagship of the U.K.-based billionaire Hinduja brothers.
TELCO officials told the news conference the new pick-up truck meets Euro II emission norms, has a gross vehicle weight of 2.82 tonnes and is powered by a 3.0 liter diesel engine.