Bengaluru: Volvo to export 100 ‘Made in India’ buses to Europe

Bengaluru, July 14 (IANS) Swedish transport major Volvo will export about 100 buses made in India to Europe a year, a top company official said on Tuesday.

“We will be the first bus company to export to the European market from India, taking advantage of lower manpower costs and neutral duty,” Volvo Buses Corporation president Hakan Agnevall told reporters.

At a meeting in the state secretariat here, Agnevall told Chief Minister Siddaramaiah that the company’s Indian subsidiary would export about 100 buses a year to European countries from its manufacturing plant at Hoskote, about 40km from here.

“Volvo India Ltd will invest an additional Rs.974 crore to expand its Hoskote plant, generating employment to 2,125 more people,” the chief minister’s office said in a statement.

The Swedish firm had set up a truck and bus production plant in the then Bangalore Rural district during 1996-98, with an initial investment of Rs.900 crore and employed 2,076 people earlier.

Volvo entered India, ostensibly, to foray into high-end truck segment, but got into the luxury buses with first move advantage as domestic rivals Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland have been contended rolling out ordinary buses for cities and semi-luxury coaches for inter-city and inter-state routes.

“Besides lower manpower cost and minimal overheads, we will avail customs duty exemptions on import of engines, components and accessories used in making buses for exports,” said Volvo Buses vice president Akash Passey.

Volvo invested in 2012 an additional Rs.400 crore in doubling its installed capacity to 1,500 units per annum. It employs about 1,000 people in its bus unit.

“As the country’s passenger transport market has been down over the last couple of years due to various factors, including recession, we could not fully utilise the production capacity as the demand or order was for 600-800 buses per annum,” said Passey.

Volvo India has been exporting luxury air-conditioned buses to South Asian countries like Bangaldesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka since 2003 and to South Africa since 2011, for multiple services, including inter-city, inter-state, long distance and within cities.

Besides here, the company has a manufacturing base in Shanghai, Bangkok and Taiwan in Asia.

“It’s a milestone for us to export buses from India to developed markets in Europe though we are a European company and has a major presence there with a couple of manufacturing plants in the continent,” said Agnevall.

The type of luxury buses to be exported will be Euro-6 complaint for mass rapid transportation in European cities, where demand is about 5,000 units per annum.

“We will use India as export hub overtime for developed markets like Europe, leveraging our manufacturing presence, with a strong vendor base,” Agnevall added.

By focusing on exports, the Indian subsidiary will also be able to face the cyclical domestic market demands, which have been linear over the years due to economic slowdown and lower orders from state-run corporations and private operators.

Agnevell also invited Siddaramiah to visit Sweden to see electric buses the company operates in Stockholm and plans to bring to India in the near future.

“The chief minister agreed to visit Sweden in September,” the statement added.


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