Aftab Auto on fast lane | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 14, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 14, 2010

Aftab Auto on fast lane

Company assembles AC buses at 28pc reduced costs

Aftab Automobiles Ltd has sped up efforts to construct bodies for Hino RM-2 air-conditioned buses at reduced costs in Bangladesh to meet the rising demand for comfortable travel.
Inspired by the initial success of building two bus-bodies since May, the company now expects to roll out six units a month.
Aftab Auto, a sister concern of Navana Group, will supply buses at about Tk 1.25 crore each, which is 28 percent less than an imported, finished Hino RM-2 bus.
“We have undertaken the scheme by considering the rise in demand for comfortable road travel. Our initiative will bring these luxury buses within the reach of long-haul bus operators,” said Tarun Koiri, deputy general manager.
The company has been engaged in assembling Hino buses for nearly three decades now. Its latest move came at a time when long-distance bus operators are revving efforts to induct luxury vehicles in their fleet.
According to company officials, nearly 175 air-conditioned buses, such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Hino RM-2 and Scania, are plying highways to carry upmarket travellers.
The market for AC buses expands by about 30 percent a year, said Dilip Ahmed, deputy general manager (marketing) of Aftab Auto.
"People prefer to travel by AC bus because of a rise in temperature. One of the reasons behind the rise in temperature is climate change,” he said.
“The rising purchasing capacity of people also brings a boon to the AC bus business."
Ahmed expects the market for luxury buses will continue to grow in the next decade, buoyed mainly by a rise in regional travel.
“With regional road connectivity with Myanmar and the northeastern states of India in sight, transport by high-end buses will increase,” said Ahmed.
In addition, the construction of four lanes on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway and Padma Bridge will also boost travel, added the official.
Aftab had previously imported these buses in a 'built form'. But high duties and freight charges caused prices to rise.
“Now, we import the buses in a CKD (completely knocked down) form with less import costs,” Ahmed said.
“We will assemble the chassis and engine parts to build the buses with an objective to cater to both the domestic and regional market in future.”
Officials of Aftab Auto, a listed company on the stock exchanges, expect the scheme to assemble the bodies of buses will contribute nearly 15 percent of sales a year.
The company posted un-audited net profit worth Tk 6.32 crore in its third quarter to May 31, rising from Tk 1.13 crore a year ago.
The shares of Aftab Auto edged up 0.57 percent to Tk 297.20 on Dhaka Stock Exchange yesterday. The face value is at Tk 10.

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