Ashok Leyland is an Indian manufacturer of industrial vehicles and buses located in Chennai, India, which has been fully controlled by the Hinduja group since 2007.

History

The company Ashok Motors was founded in 1948 by Raghunandan Saran, an Indian freedom fighter born in Punjab. After independence, the first Prime Minister of independent India, Nehru, persuaded him to invest in a modern industrial enterprise. Ashok Motors was created on September 7, 1948 to manufacture and assemble English Austin automobiles. The company is named after the founder's only son Ashok Saran. The company was headquartered in Rajaji Saalai, Chennai (formerly Madras) and its factory in Ennore, a small fishing hamlet in the north of Chennai.

The first model that the company assembled and distributed under its name was the Austin A40, an old passenger car very well known in India.

Cooperation with Leyland Motors

Sometime later, Raghunandan Saran died in a plane crash. It was being negotiated with the British manufacturer Leyland Motors for the assembly of commercial vehicles. The country's needs at that time were much greater in utility vehicles than in passenger cars. An agreement was signed in 1954 which would make British Leyland a partner but also a minority shareholder of the company whose corporate name would become Ashok-Leyland.

The new company Ashok Leyland Ltd started manufacturing utility vehicles under the supervision of British expatriate technicians. The company has grown in strength to become one of the largest commercial vehicle manufacturers in India, the second after Tata.

The collaboration with British Leyland ended in 1975, but thanks to its contribution, the Indian manufacturer was able to evolve and take advantage of new technologies. From 1975, a profound change in management structures will anchor the company in the purest Indian tradition.

Cooperation with IVECO

In 1987, the Land Rover Leyland International Holdings Limited - LRLIH holding company was bought out by a joint venture between the Indo-British group Hinduja and the Italian heavyweight manufacturer IVECO, a subsidiary of the Fiat group already well established in India since 1950. La new management sets an ambitious long-term development plan for Ashok Leyland so that the manufacturer becomes a global player with all global standards of technology and quality. The contribution of Italian technologies combined with an investment of 200 million US dollars have created a state-of-the-art industrial base to manufacture world-class products.

The big difficulty will be to convince that these new, more expensive vehicles were above all more reliable, less polluting and safer than the old ones with wooden cabins. Iveco will equip almost the entire range with its engines but will not succeed in imposing its models, which are far too technically advanced for local users.

In 2001, a financial scandal involved the Hinduja family in trading in influence for arms sales. The case has been handled at the highest Indian and British level. In February 2005, Ashok-Leyland signed a contract for the sale of 100 military vehicles in Sudan, in full contravention of international law. The Agnelli family, boss of the Fiat group, does not accept that its associates are caught a second time in the act of illegal contracts and decides to withdraw from Ashok-Leyland Ltd.

Takeover by the Hinduja group

Implementing the Fiat group's decision of July 2006, in 2007, the Hinduja Group took over IVECO's stake in Ashok Leyland. The Hinduja group's share then rose to 51%.

Today, the company is the main wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hinduja group, a transnational conglomerate based in Britain and India, after Hinduja acquired the remaining Iveco stakes.

Trucks and buses

Comet

The first products included the Leyland Comet bus which consisted of a bus body on a truck chassis? This model will be sold in large quantities to many operators in India. In 1963, the Comet bus was used by almost all state transport companies in India and more than 8,000 were in service. He was soon joined in production by the Leyland Tiger model.

Titan

In 1968, production of the Leyland Titan ended in Great Britain but started at Ashok Leyland in India. The Titan PD3 chassis was modified and an Indian gearbox and an Ashok Leyland O.680 engine were used. The Ashok Leyland Titan was very successful and its production continued for many years.

Hino engine

In the early 1980s, Ashok Leyland signed a cooperation agreement with the Japanese company Hino Motors, whose technology had already been used for H-series engines. Many local versions of the H-series engine were developed with versions with 4 and 6 cylinders, compliant with Indian emission standards BS2, BS3 and BS4. These engines have proven to be extremely popular with customers mainly for their good performance. Most of Ashok Leyland's current models come with H-series engines.

Iveco partnership

In 1986, Iveco bought the "Ford Trucks Europe" division. The only vehicle in the range is the Ford Cargo, production of which was stopped in 1991 and transferred to Ashok-Leyland.

In the late 1980s, Iveco's investments and technologies enabled Ashok Leyland to launch the Cargo line of trucks. The first copy was produced in 1994 in the new Ashok Leyland factory in Hosur, south-east of Bangalore. These vehicles used Iveco engines and have factory installed cabs for the first time in India. Although the "Cargo" trucks are no longer in production and the use of Iveco engines has been interrupted, the cabin continues to be used on the "Ecomet" range of trucks as well as for several Ashok Leyland military vehicles.

The "Cargo" range was originally introduced in a 4x2 carrier version in 7 and 9 tonnes with long chassis. Later, heavy versions from 15 to 26.5 tonnes in 6x4 version were marketed.

Current models

U-Truck

Ashok Leyland marketed vehicles on the new U-Truck platform from November 2010 with a series of 10 models, tippers and trailers, in the 16 to 49 tonne segment.

Dost

The Dost is a light commercial vehicle (LCV) with a 1,250 kg payload presented in 2011. It is in fact the first vehicle from the Indo-Japanese joint venture "Ashok Leyland - Nissan Vehicles". The Dost is equipped with a 55- cylinder turbocharged Common Rail 3-cylinder diesel engine. It is available in BS3 and BS4 versions. The bodywork and some of the elements are taken from the 1980 "Nissan C22 Vanette". The vehicle is produced in the Ashok Leyland factory in Hosur in Tamil Nadu. With the Dost, Ashok Leyland entered the light commercial vehicle segment in India.

Boss

The "Boss" is an industrial vehicle of medium range 8 to 14 tonnes.

Minivan STiLE

The "STiLE" Minivan is a mini van presented at the New Delhi Automobile Exhibition in September 2012 and marketed in July 2013. The "STiLE" is a "versatile vehicle", derived from the Nissan NV200 for use as a shuttle hotel, taxi, ambulance, courier van. In May 2015, Ashok Leyland stopped production due to very weak demand.

Construction equipment

Since June 2009, the company has been interested in the construction equipment sector which is experiencing strong growth. A 50/50 joint venture has been formed with John Deere under the name "Leyland-Deere Limited".

Nissan Ashok Leyland

In 2007, the company created a joint venture with Japanese automaker Nissan, which will share the Chennai plant in India. The shareholding structures of the three companies dependent on the JV are:

  • Ashok Leyland Nissan Vehicles Pvt. Ltd, a vehicle manufacturing company, is 51% owned by Ashok Leyland and 49% by Nissan,
  • Nissan Ashok Leyland Powertrain Pvt. Ltd, an engine manufacturing company owned 51% by Nissan and 49% by Ashok Leyland,
  • Nissan Ashok Leyland Technologies Pvt. Ltd, a technology development company owned 50/50 by the two partners.

Ashok-Leyland Defense Systems

Ashok Leyland Defense Systems is a company created in 2008 by the Hinduja group after the acquisition of the Czech manufacturer AVIA. Ashok Leyland, the flagship company of the Hinduja group, owns 26% of Ashok Leyland Defense Systems (ALDS). The company, continuing AVIA's military activities, designs and develops defense logistics and tactical vehicles, defense communication and other systems. Ashok Leyland quickly became the largest supplier of logistics vehicles to the Indian army. He supplied more than 60,000 copies of the Stallion, a vehicle from the Iveco-Ford Cargo, which forms the logistical backbone of the Indian Army.

Lanka Ashok-Leyland

Lanka Ashok-Leyland (LAL) was established in 1982 in Sri Lanka and started operations in 1983. The companies "Lanka Leyland Ltd", a company wholly owned by the government of Sri Lanka and Ashok Leyland Ltd India has decided to strengthen their commercial ties and create this entity. "LAL" imports commercial vehicles in CKD from India or complete chassis and carries out assembly operations, repair and maintenance but also produces specific bodies on the chassis.

AVIA

In October 2006, Ashok Leyland took a major financial stake in the Czech truck manufacturer AVIA. The company will be renamed Avia Ashok Leyland Motors and will try to enter the European market. Strong competition and a prolonged recession in Europe will lead to the closure of the Czech workshops in July 2013.

Optare

In 2010, Ashok Leyland acquired a 26% stake in the English bus manufacturer Optare, a company descended from the former bus branch of the Leyland Motors Company group. In December 2011, Ashok Leyland increased its stake in Optare to 75.1%.

"Ashok Leyland" is at the 48th Position in this list.

Ashok Leyland
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