The blue MetroDecker marks a turnaround in the fortunes of ailing British bus manufacturer Optare, which had been acquired by the Indian-origin group's flagship firm Ashok Leyland three years ago and is now being promoted as a symbol of growth in India-UK relations under a new BJP-led government.
The Group owns 75 per cent of the stock in Optare and has now announced it as a hub for its global bus strategy. Ashok Leyland, India's leading vehicle manufacturer, has already invested 20 million pounds in Optare since its acquisition 2011.
"Optare came as an opportunity. The problem was it was totally cash dry, an ailing company, scattered in parts. We took it over, brought it together and put up a new plant at Leeds in Yorkshire. And now, the Hinduja Group has decided to make Optare the hub of its global bus strategy. And our targets are that from here buses will be exported to different parts of the world," explained Hinduja, a member of Britain's richest family.
The stylish new blue MetroDecker has been designed and built at the firm's state-of-the-art assembly facility in Leeds and claims to have the latest light-weight and fuel-efficient structure.
Hinduja said, "We invested in Optare when nobody was putting money in it. We have invested in India when nobody was going into India to put money. The group has always believed in investing when no one is going there.
"We have always been spotting opportunities in the automotive sector. We are the fourth-largest bus manufacturers in the world and the second-largest vehicle manufacturers in India. Although it is perceived that manufacturing is disappearing in the UK, in my view there is a lot of talent in manufacturing, engineering and innovation here.
"We also have an Indo-British trade and investment angle. The capital is coming from Ashok Leyland and we are getting the best technology available in the UK.