Navistar launched its first commercial trucks for the Indian market at the Auto Expo in Delhi. Sales will begin by March.

Mahindra-Navistar Automotives, the commercial vehicle joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Navistar unveiled a line of trucks and tractors in the range of 25-, 31-, 40- and 49-ton (equivalent GVW ranges of approximately 56,000 pounds up to 109,000 pounds).

Navistar said the locally-made trucks had been designed, developed and tested for Indian roads and conditions and were capable of negotiating the toughest terrain. The 25- and 31-tonne trucks were unveiled previously in Delhi, while the 40- and 49-tonne trucks made their debut at the motor show.

"With the addition of the MN 40 and MN 49 trucks and tractors to its product portfolio, Mahindra-Navistar is now well poised to cater to a wide spectrum of requirements in the Indian heavy commercial vehicle (HCV) industry," said Anand Mahindra, vice chairman and managing director, Mahindra Group. "This product line-up makes us a formidable player."

In 2005, M&M (51%) and Navistar agreed the MNAL joint venture to manufacture light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles for India as well as export markets. The JV plans to expand its product line further over the next two years to emerge as a full-range commercial vehicle player from 3.5-ton GVW to 49-ton GVW with variants of passenger transport, cargo and specialised load applications.

Product development for this new line of vehicles was handled by Navistar while MNAL handled assembly.

The vehicles are made at M&M's new 'green field' plant at Chakan, near Pune. The plant, which covers over 700 acres, has been set up with investments by Mahindra & Mahindra of about US$857m and will produce other M&M products as well.

MNAL is adding 50 new dealers across the country and will also use M&M auto and tractor dealers.

"We hope next year will see the turnaround of trucking business in India," Pawan Goenka, Mahindra's president for the automotive sector, told a news conference in the Indian capital.

Sales of trucks and buses in India have turned a corner on the back of an economic recovery, rising 12.4% between April and November compared with a fall of almost 22% in the fiscal year ended March 2009.