In a fast-growing economy like India, commodity-based businesses are destined to thrive and the backbone to these businesses is a reliable and efficient supply and delivery network. It has been estimated that due to application requirements like these and India's industrial growth, by the year 2023 we estimate 800,000 pickup trucks to be sold annually. With commercial vehicle segment on a boom, we take the microscope to India’s fast-growing CV segment in an attempt to uncover what the latest commercial pickups in the market have to offer in terms of their capabilities that might appeal to different businesses. We will take a look at offerings like Tata Yodha 1500 and Mahindra Big Bolero which happen to be some of the most popular commercial vehicle offerings built by two of India’s largest domestic commercial vehicle manufacturers. As indicated by the monikers, Tata Yodha comes with a 1.5-ton payload capacity and Maha Bolero gets a 1.5-ton capacity. Both pickup trucks are offered a wide range of variants and body styles which feature different payload capacities and equipment options which can be customized to suit specific business needs.
Pricing, Benefits and Estimated Savings Potential
Prices for Tata Yodha start from Rs. 7 lacs (ex-showroom, Thane) and those of Mahindra Maha Bolero 1.7 T start at Rs. 7.1 lakh (ex-showroom, Thane). Tata claims that customers will be able to avail substantial savings over the truck’s life cycle. Tata Yodha 1500 comes equipped with mechanical components that have been built to last, which according to Tata will result in improved fuel economy and longer service intervals. Some of these high-quality parts include additional suspension leaves, larger 16-inch tires and a propeller shaft which has been lubricated for life.
Tata Yodha comes with ample load body space and overload capabilities and customers can also take advantage of Tata’s exchange program via ‘Tata Ok’ which helps customers exchange their old commercial pickup trucks. Tata also offers Yodha pickup with its SAMARTH benefits plans which includes accidental death/disability benefit of up to Rs. 10 lacs, accidental hospitalization benefit of Rs. 50,000, free financial counseling and literacy camp, career counseling and scholarship, smartphone-based education for children in 5th to 10th standard and the facility of 57 health tests that are carried out two times every year.
Fuel Economy and Cost of Operation
The operation cost per kilometer for Tata Yodha stands at 0.24 ps and that of Mahindra Big Bolero is estimated at 0.40 ps. Tata claims that Yodha owners will also benefit from competitively priced spare parts. Tata’s common rail technology enables Yodha’s powerplant to offer commendable fuel economy.
According to Tata, fuel costs account for around 34-37% of the total monthly operational expense and with fuel savings from Yodha, customers will be able to save up to Rs. 3 lacs over 4 years. Tata also offers a program in which prospective customers can partake in a trial Yodha ownership program where the company will pay for a full tank of fuel and customers can opt to test drive the pickup over a day or two and review its features and performance before making the final purchase.
Tata and Mahindra offer impressive after-sales network across the country and have set up customer service platforms like toll-free helplines, live chat services, mobile phone applications, and websites. Mahindra’s WITHYOUHAMESHA app and Tata Yodha’s priority help desk offer commendable after-sales customer support.
Tata’s customer support helpline is available in 9 different regional languages and the company also celebrates one of the widest service (2000+ touchpoints) and dealer network (300+) across the country. Tata also offers ‘Tata Alert and Zippy’ initiative under which the automaker ensures that the pickup is made available on road within 24 hours of having been brought in for service, else a compensation of Rs. 500 per day after the first 24 hours is offered to the customers. Tata also offers breakdown assistance and service within 4 hours of a breakdown and has standardized a wide range of parts. This means Tata can have a ready supply of spares on priority across its dealerships by simply mapping out fast-moving and essential spare parts. This falls under Tata’s vehicle off-road initiative.
Engine Technology and Specifications
Tata Yodha is powered by the company’s common rail 3-liter 4 cylinder engine which produces 85 bhp of power output at 3000 RPM and 250 Nm of peak torque at 1000 RPM. This engine was also offered in Tata’s 407 pickup and customer reports claim that this motor is good for up to 300,000 kilometers. The powerplant in Mahindra Big Bolero is a 2.5-liter m2DICR engine churns out 70 bhp of power at 3200 RPM and 195 Nm of maximum torque between 1500 and 1800 RPM.
Superior power and torque figure mean that there is comparatively less load on the engine during operation. Both Tata Yodha and Mahindra Big Bolero come with a 5-speed manual gearbox
Cabin Features and Creature Comforts
Both Bolero and Yodha pickup trucks ride on tubular chassis which get additional reinforcement between the cabin and load body. Both pickup trucks come with semi-elliptic leaf springs, rigid front axle, and rear live axles. Tata Yodha’s cabin design is similar to that of the Xenon pickup truck and gets decent soundproofing inside the cabin which isolates the engine and road noise, quite well. Tata Yodha comes equipped with reclining bucket seats, 12-volt charger, flatbed co-driver seat, bottle holders, tachometer, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, sturdy suspension setup with anti-roll bars, 16-inch wheels and 210 mm ground clearance. Mahindra Big Bolero is also offered with a tilt-adjustable steering wheel but does get telescopic adjustment feature or a tachometer. Tata Yodha pickup has been crashed tested and is also sold internationally in countries like Chile and Thailand and therefore complies with global safety standards.
Both Mahindra Big Bolero and Tata Yodha pickup feature a single plate dry friction type clutch. Tata Yodha’s powertrain comes with a 260 mm diameter unit and Mahindra Big Bolero is equipped with a 240 mm clutch. A larger diameter clutch unit translates into extended life and Tata Yodha’s also gets a suspension which comes equipped with 6 leaves in the front and 9 leaves at the rear. Tata Yodha commercial pickup truck is painted in 2 coats of high gloss PU paint and the paint job is carried out using cathodic electrodeposition painting process which means transportation of fluids like milk does not pose any challenges for Tata’s offering as the risk of rusting is substantially reduced.
Mahindra Big Bolero's internal dimensions stand at just under 9 feet and the pickup truck’s width stands at 1700 mm. Tata Yodha is 1860 mm wide and comes with an internal loading area of 47.8 square feet.
Even though both Tata Yodha 1500 and Mahindra Big Bolero compete in the same commercial pickup segment, the distinct specifications and features offered in the two vehicles, set them apart and also make them suitable for completely different types of applications. Tata Yodha 1500 is a relatively modern offering and therefore comes equipped with a wide range of features, some of which happen to be segment-firsts. Depending on the nature of requirement and application conditions, either of the two offerings will prove to be quite competent pickup trucks however an argument can be made that in a majority of cases, the scales tip in Yodha’s favor.