Ashok Leyland targets aerospace sector for testing services


Chennai : Commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland, part of the Hinduja Group, will target the Indian aerospace sector for testing various aircraft components, a senior group official said here Wednesday.

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The company will offer the testing as well as engineering design services through its division – Defiance Technologies – or through its wholly-owned US subsidiary Defiance Testing and Engineering Services Inc.

“Foreign aircraft manufacturers are now bound by high local offset clauses – up to 30 percent of the value. This offers good scope for us,” Hinduja Automotive Ltd executive vice-chairman V. Sumantran told reporters.

“We can test undercarriage structural components made of cast aluminium, doors and others for their durability and also offer design engineering services,” he added.

Sumantran said discussions with a few aircraft manufacturers have already started.

In order to derive better brand equity at the market place for its engineering design services, Ashok Leyland has rebranded its Ashley Design and Engineering Services division as Defiance Technologies.

Last year, the Indian vehicle manufacturer acquired the US-based Defiance Testing, which is into automotive product and component testing, for around $15 million.

The American company has two testing laboratories.

“Under a common brand Defiance, the group can offer enlarged range of services – design, engineering, prototyping, testing and validation. The two divisions have a total head count of 300,” said Defiance Technologies chief operating officer P. Parthasarathy.

The combined revenue of the two units is around $15 million.

According to Sumantran, vehicle and component testing offers a Rs.7-billion business opportunity in India as all the vehicle manufacturers send components abroad – mainly to Europe – for testing and validation.

While plans are on to set up a vehicle testing laboratory in India, Sumantran said the location and the outlay are yet to be finalised.

On the other hand, the US subsidiary is planning to enter China and Europe with vehicle testing laboratories.

“We have been approached by several Chinese vehicle manufacturers to set up a lab there. However, the outlay has not been finalised,” said Peter G. Dodd, vice-president and general manager at Defiance Testing.

Ashok Leyland at some point in the future may hive off engineering design services division and merge with Defiance Testing but retaining its own vehicle test centre located here.