The origin of Ashok Leyland can be traced to the urge for self-reliance, felt by independent India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister persuaded Mr. Raghunandan Saran, an industrialist, to enter automotive manufacture. In 1948, Ashok Motors was set up in what was then Madras, for the assembly of Austin Cars. The Company's destiny and name changed soon with equity participation by British Leyland and Ashok Leyland commenced manufacture of commercial vehicles in 1955.
Since then Ashok Leyland has been a major presence in India's commercial vehicle industry with a tradition of technological leadership, achieved through tie-ups with international technology leaders and through vigorous in-house R&D.
Access to international technology enabled the Company to set a tradition to be first with technology. Be it full air brakes, power steering or rear engine busses, Ashok Leyland pioneered all these concepts. Responding to the operating conditions and practices in the country, the Company made its vehicles strong, over-engineering them with extra metallic muscles. "Designing durable products that make economic sense to the consumer, using appropriate technology", became the design philosophy of the Company, which in turn has moulded consumer attitudes and the brand personality.
Ashok Leyland vehicles have built a reputation for reliability and ruggedness. The 5,00,000 vehicles we have put on the roads have considerably eased the additional pressure placed on road transportation in independent India.
In the populous Indian metros, four out of the five State Transport Undertaking (STU) buses come from Ashok Leyland. Some of them like the double-decker and vestibule buses are unique models from Ashok Leyland, tailor-made for high-density routes.
In 1987, the overseas holding by Land Rover Leyland International Holdings Limited (LRLIH) was taken over by a joint venture between the Hinduja Group, the Non-Resident Indian transnational group and IVECO. (Since July 2006, the Hinduja Group is 100% holder of LRLIH).
The blueprint prepared for the future reflected the global ambitions of the company, captured in four words: Global Standards, Global Markets. This was at a time when liberalisation and globalisation were not yet in the air. Ashok Leyland embarked on a major product and process upgrade to match world-class standards of technology.