UPDATE 1-INTERVIEW-Eicher-Volvo to invest $331 mln in India JV

Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:13pm IST

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* New Eicher-Volvo range to roll out by end of next year

* To begin exports of engines to Volvo Europe by mid-2013

* Global manufacturers muscling in on Indian truck market (Adds quotes, details)

By Henry Foy and Matthias Williams

NEW DELHI, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Eicher Motors and Volvo AB will invest 18 billion rupees ($331 million) over the next two years in their Indian joint venture, Eicher's head said on Wednesday, and begin exports of engines to Volvo's European operations next year.

Volvo, the world's number two truck maker, is among global manufacturers, including Daimler AG, that are muscling in on India's truck and bus industry, which is dominated by local giants Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland.

The Eicher-Volvo JV will roll out a new range of trucks and buses built in India using Volvo technology by the end of 2013, and look to export these vehicles to Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia within two to three years, Eicher's managing director said.

"It's very important for Volvo. Volvo wants to develop Eicher because it doesn't have a brand like this in its entire portfolio which it can take to other emerging markets," Siddhartha Lal told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on the outskirts of New Delhi.

The joint venture is spending more than 4 billion rupees on a factory to build 80,000 engines a year, which will be operational by mid-2013 and supply both Eicher in India and also Volvo's bus and truck manufacturing plants in Europe.

The Swedish truckmaker said last month that its plants in Europe were operating at less than full capacity, and that it saw no truck market growth in Eruopean or U.S. markets next year.

Eicher and Volvo have already invested 7 billion rupees in the 50-50 joint venture, which was formed in 2008.

"We believe there's an enormous potential to transform commercial vehicles in India," said Lal. "As a result we've been investing tremendously in the company."

($1 = 54.4350 Indian rupees) (Editing by Louise Heavens)

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