India’s truck sector: the long haul overhaul

Despite the allure of advanced connectivity features and associated services, fuel economy was the overriding trend of the day at HD Truck Pune, a one-day conference hosted recently by Automotive Megatrends. Freddie Holmes summarises the key takeaways highlighted at the event by OEMs, suppliers and industry analysts

1)    GST – at last! Is the long-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) the biggest change to trucking in India? Yes, according to various Indian executives and experts. GST is expected to boost trucking and freight efficiency, and was well received by all stakeholders at the conference. Today, Indian trucking is all about cost control. GST is pegged as the catalyst to shift the industry towards productivity instead. However, questions remain: will it really be implemented in 2017? And will it will live up to the industry’s expectations? In theory, it will effectively free up long-haul trucking routes, making the market more attractive to big fleets.

2)    Trucking powers up: With GST opening up long-distance routes, big fleets will take keen interest – and big fleets will want to buy big, powerful, fuel-efficient trucks. That’s the idea anyway, with most executives confident that overall demand for clean, high horsepower trucks will increase thanks to GST. At the same time, India is leapfrogging emissions standards to Bharat VI, which will affect all vehicles manufactured on or after 1 April 2020.

3)    Telematics – there’s a gap in the market! A growing number of trucks across India feature a telematics system, but mostly only in its most basic form. Advanced telematics is deemed an industry ‘game changer’, and will solve the current ‘primitive’ handling of freight. In partnership with other connected services, productivity could be drastically increased. An accurate estimated arrival time, with information on the goods being carried – all transmitted over-the-air – could radically change the interaction between truck and depot. Fleets need to be convinced that the upfront investment can improve safety, efficiency, maintenance and, of course, customer satisfaction.

4)    ‘Truck as a service’ comes to India: Concurrent with movements in developed markets, stakeholders are looking to leverage heavy trucking in new ways through connectivity. Companies such as Truckola plan to utilise data and predictive analytics to link businesses that require shipping with heavy trucks that need road time. The message to India’s freight hauling sector: get ready for business models vying to be called the Uber of heavy trucking.

5)    Stand by for change, but let’s be realistic: India’s CV sector is due a significant overhaul, but that doesn’t mean the imminent arrival of electrified autonomous trucks. Partial driver assistance is feasible, and for India would mark a leap in safety standards. Advanced powertrain and fleet management technologies – although a must-have in established markets – are also set to make ground breaking improvements to freight efficiency in India.


This article appeared in the Q1 2017 issue of Automotive Megatrends Magazine.