Chennai: Hinduja Group flagship company Ashok Leyland on Monday unveiled its first light commercial vehicle 'Dost'-- whose price starts at Rs 3.79 lakh—and said 380 acres of land have been acquired near here to set up greenfiled facility to manufacture LCVs.

The company, which has entered into an association with Japanese auto major Nissan to manufacture light commercial vehicles (LCVs), has acquired land at Pillaipakkam.

After the formal launch of 'Dost', Ashok Leyland Chairman Dheeraj G Hinduja said, "Dost was under development for four years. We have partnered with them (Nissan) to provide
Japanese technology at Indian cost and that has been the mantra for us. It stands as a testimony to Ashok Leyland's expertise."

Ashok Leyland would be expanding its range in the light commercial vehicle segment during the next two years.

He said the second product from Nissan's manufacturing plant at Oragadam near here would be rolled out by the end of next year and the third from Ashok Leyland plant.

The Pillaipakkam facility with an area of about 380 acres had been acquired and the new product range would come from the new plant. "The capacity of the plant will be 2,00,000
units. We can ramp it up whenever required", he said.

Ashok Leyland Executive Vice-Chairman R Seshasayee said the Pillaipakkam facility would also be used for manufacturing medium and heavy commercial vehicles and also light commercial vehicles.

When asked if Ashok Leyland had shelved its proposal to manufacture small car, Hinduja said, "I have commented about it quite a few times. At the moment, our focus remains in the commercial vehicle."

On its association with US construction equipment maker John Deere, he said it was "progressing well" and the first product was expected to be launched by the end of this
financial year.

"It is progressing well. We should be looking at the launch (of the first product) by the end of this financial year," he said.

To a query on rebranding exercise, Hinduja said, "if you look at the executives within the company, it is much younger company. Right now the rebranding exercise is going on..the
launch of it (rebranding) will happen towards the end of this financial year".

According to the company officials, the light commercial vehicle industry was growing at rate of 15 per cent every year and the current recession may not have an impact on the
industry.

(Agencies)