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The origin of Ashok Leyland, a Hinduja group company can be traced to the urge for self–reliance, felt by independent India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister persuaded Raghunandan Saran, an industrialist, to enter automotive manufacture. In 1948, Ashok Motors was set up in what was then Madras, for the assembly of Austin Cars. The Company's destiny and name changed soon with equity participation by British Leyland and Ashok Leyland commenced manufacture of commercial vehicles in 1955.
Since then Ashok Leyland has been a major presence in India's commercial vehicle industry with a tradition of technological leadership, achieved through tie–ups with international technology leaders and through vigorous in–house R&D. Access to international technology enabled the Company to set a tradition to be first with technology. Be it full air brakes, power steering or rear engine busses, Ashok Leyland pioneered all these concepts. Responding to the operating conditions and practices in the country, the Company made its vehicles strong, over–engineering them with extra metallic muscles. 'Designing durable products that make economic sense to the consumer, using appropriate technology', became the design philosophy of the Company, which in turn has moulded consumer attitudes and the brand personality.
The Hinduja Group is a transnational conglomerate that provides a wide range of products in over fifty countries worldwide. Today, the Hinduja Group has become one of the largest transnational business conglomerates in the world with diversified operations, spanning all the continents. The Group employs over 25,000 people and has offices in many key cities of the world and all the major cities in India.Ashok Leyland vehicles have built a reputation for reliability and ruggedness.
In the populous Indian metros, four out of the five State Transport Undertaking (STU) buses come from Ashok Leyland. Some of them like the double–decker and vestibule buses are unique models from Ashok Leyland, tailor–made for high–density routes.
In 1987, the overseas holding by Land Rover Leyland International Holdings Limited (LRLIH) was taken over by a joint venture between the Hinduja Group, the Non–Resident Indian transnational group and IVECO. (Since July 2006, the Hinduja Group is 100% holder of LRLIH). The blueprint prepared for the future reflected the global ambitions of the company, captured in four words: Global Standards, Global Markets. This was at a time when liberalisation and globalisation were not yet in the air. Ashok Leyland embarked on a major product and process upgradation to match world–class standards of technology.
For over five decades, Ashok Leyland has been the technology leader in India's commercial vehicle industry, moulding the country's commercial vehicle profile by introducing technologies and product ideas that have gone on to become industry norms. From 18 seater to 82 seater double–decker buses, from 7.5 tonne to 49 tonne in haulage vehicles, from numerous special application vehicles to diesel engines for industrial, marine and genset applications, Ashok Leyland offers a wide range of products. Eight out of ten metro state transport buses in India are from Ashok Leyland. With over 60 million passengers a day, Ashok Leyland buses carry more people than the entire Indian rail network!
Product range of the company includes:
- Defence & Special Vehicles
- Automotive Coaches & Components Ltd (ACCL)
- Lanka Ashok Leyland
- Hinduja Foundries
- Ashok Leyland Project Services Limited
- 1966 – Introduced full air brakes
- 1967 – Launched double–decker bus
- 1968 – Offered power steering in commercial vehicles
- 1979 – Introduced multi–axle trucks
- 1980 – Introduced the international concept of integral bus with air suspension
- 1982 – Introduced vestibule bus
- 1992 – Won self–certification status for defence supplies
- 1993 – Received ISO 9002
- 1997 – India's first CNG powered bus joined the BEST fleet
- 2001 – Received ISO 14001 certification for all manufacturing units
- 2002 – Launched hybrid electric vehicle2003 – Dheeraj Hinduja Elected Vice Chairman of Ashok Leyland Board
- 2004 – The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi and Ashok Leyland signed an agreement for setting up a 'state–of–the–art' Driver Training Institute at Burari
- 2005 – State–of–the–art Driver Training Institute opens in Delhi
- 2006 – Ashok Leyland and Bosch have joined hands with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) to set up the Ashok Leyland and Bosch Centre of Excellence in Engineering Design at the IITM campus
- 2007 – The company unveiled 4921 TT, a 6x4 tractor with a gross vehicle weight of 49 tonnes
- 2008 – The company signed an agreement for a joint venture with John Deere, for manufacturing and marketing of construction equipment.
- 2009 – Ashok Leyland and Bank of Baroda signed a MoU wherein Bank of Baroda will fund Ashok Leyland’s end–customers as well as finance its dealers’ inventory
- 2010 – Ashok Leyland has bagged an order for 600 vehicles from VRL Logistics that comprise 500 numbers of 3123 Multi–Axle Vehicle (MAV) in the 8x2 configuration, a newly developed, first of its kind for the Indian commercial vehicle industry, along with 100 nos. of the Company’s 12–metre buses
- 2011–Ashok Leyland forays in small commercial vehicle segment; launches “DOST” in JV with Nissan Motor.
- 2013– Launched the STILE, a stylish Multi–Purpose Vehicle (MPV) based on a contemporary, award–winning vehicle platform.
- 2013– Launched the BOSS, an intermediate commercial vehicle (ICV), that seamlessly combines the strength and ruggedness of a truck with the comfort of a car.
- 2014– Launched two new Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) – PARTNER truck, India’s first air–conditioned LCV goods vehicle and MiTR bus, a LCV bus with best–in–class comfort. After the commercially successful Dost and the recently launched STiLE, now PARTNER and MiTR are the latest offerings from the Ashok Leyland – Nissan Joint Venture.
In the journey towards global standards of quality, Ashok Leyland reached a major milestone in 1993 when it became the first in India's automobile history to win the ISO 9002 certification. The more comprehensive ISO 9001 certification came in 1994, QS 9000 in 1998 and ISO 14001 certification for all vehicle manufacturing units in 2002. It has also become the first Indian auto company to receive the latest ISO/TS 16949 Corporate Certification (in July 2006) which is specific to the auto industry.