India Watch : Leyland lives! Ashok’s new pick-up

Ashok Leyland Dost
Ashok Leyland Dost

The Flying Plughole lives! Ashok Leyland and Nissan have this week announced the first product of their Joint Venture, a small 1.25-tonne pick-up truck named the Dost. The commercial launch of the Dost is expected in June with prices to be revealed nearer the time.

The vehicle is powered by a 55bhp, three-cylinder, turbocharged common rail diesel engine and in informal discussions, Ashok Leyland’s officials say that the truck is built to take overloading.

The LCV is produced under a joint venture of Ashok Leyland and Nissan, in which the Indian company holds 51 per cent stake. However, the Dost will be sold as an Ashok Leyland vehicle through the company’s existing Dealer Network. Next year, the joint venture will launch a Nissan LCV and, the year after, a second Ashok Leyland LCV.

The Dost will be built in Hosur and its Nissan equivalent at Ogradam until the new Joint Venture factory is opened at Pillaipakkam near Chennai. The JV will ultimately produce vehicles on three distinct platforms in the 3.5 tonnes to 7 tonnes range.

Ashok Leyland has been a truck maker for half a century, but selling LCVs is a new area. Selling big trucks is a different ballgame altogether. The buyers are typically large fleet operators who are sophisticated businessmen, armed with sufficient financial muscle. While the number of medium and heavy duty trucks sold may grow year after year, the set of purchasers is rather the same. Most of the medium and heavy duty truck makers vie for a share of this market.

There are no plans for the Dost to come to the UK but, if it does reach here, we hope it ends up wearing the Sherpa nameplate.

[Source: Business Line]

Keith Adams
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  1. Yep, it’s good to see the logo back after something like 30 years. Sherpa would certainly be a better name in the UK than Dost! Not exactly a looker, though…

  2. My knees and pants are of a quiver at the use of the iconic badge. However, I’m left wondering when the film re-make of Logan’s Run is coming out, assuming they’re using the rides for that.

  3. Actually, the logo has never gone away. I’ve seen Ashok Leyland/plughole badges on the rehashed Ford Cargo trucks.

  4. I see that Ashok Leyland have even gone for a proper 1970s British Leyland paint and trim combo. 🙂


  5. Is this one of those vehicles that’s had a previous life and then a new front end has been slapped on? There’s just something about the nose and bumper combo that looks like an add-on…

  6. Lol! Who would have thought it?! Not only the flying plug-hole, but also a P76 Force 7-style steering wheel! Class!

  7. This is brilliant. I want one! BLMC is back via India, China and Germany!

    I’ll have a BMW MINI for commuting, an MG6 for the weekend, a Dost for the gardening and an Evoque for towing my yacht!! Mind you, maybe I’ll sell the lot and buy an XJ!

  8. They still build BMC (yes, British Motor Corporation) trucks in Turkey. I’ve even seen a couple on our roads too. Another remnant of a past JV…

    Actually, Leyland Trucks Limited is still going in the UK too – they build trucks under the DAF nameplate. However, in reality, DAF, Foden and Leyland are all owned by the giant PACCAR Inc.

  9. Dr Bobby Love :
    Is this one of those vehicles that’s had a previous life and then a new front end has been slapped on? There’s just something about the nose and bumper combo that looks like an add-on…

    Indeed, it is – if you look at the doors you can tell that the Dost is just a late 1980s Nissan van with a nose job.

    I think the internal door handles are also probably Nissan-derived as opposed to the similar looking Ital/Metro ones. Actually, we know they’re not the BL handles, as we’ve all just looked hard at them and they haven’t fallen off!

  10. The pricing would have to be ‘very keen’ to shift these in the UK… Even with its facelifted nose, it still looks like a throwback from 1987 and it is probably around that era technically as well.

    Without being overly cynical, I can’t see it being a massive seller over here. However, give it a completely updated and modern style cab and it potentially could do things (as long as that price tag is attractive).

    Indeed, if it proves cheap and reliable, then maybe, just maybe! Very odd to see the Leyland badge back though!!

  11. Love it! Ugly and workmanlike inside, with a dash reminiscent of the uber-simple one fitted to Marina vans: just enough information for the driver and not a smidgen more… The Dost would make an interesting alternative camper if they made a van version. Buy one out in India, get it converted and drive it home – what superb road trip that would be!

  12. @Dennis
    Yes, it’s essentially a facelifted (and not a very attractive one either) late 1980s Nissan Vanette. Newer versions of the Vanette were updated, light duty Mazda E-Series vans which were slightly heavier and available in a wider variety of configurations.

  13. @J181
    I don’t think Ashok Leyland have any intention of selling the Dost over here!

    Anyway, if they did, I believe that Paccar/DAF/Leyland will almost certainly still have the rights to the Leyland brand and badge, even if they choose not to use them.

  14. Woo, hoo! That iconic badge on the middle of a steering wheel in 2011! Class!

    Okay, so the Dost’s not a looker, but who cares! I’d have one!

  15. Well, and I thought the Clubfoot was ugly – the Dost fully deserves the traditional BL comment: “Oh God, they’ve done it on the other side as well!”

    The Dost should be taken gently out the back and put down humanely – there is just nothing good that can be said about it, at any price. Oh, and please, are those *really* Minilite wheels I spy…

  16. Actually, Ashok Leyland Limited are already in the UK. The company acquired a 26 per cent stake in Optare plc, the bus maker, last year. Optare, of course, used to be Roe which was part of British Leyland. See this Press Release dated 29 July 2010.

  17. @Karl
    A spiritual successor to the Citroen C15?

    Let’s see a decent diesel-engined version. There is definitely a market for cheap commercial vehicles, even if they made a “retro” version. 🙂

  18. Good god that one fell out the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Mind you, that’s what was being said about Hyundais and Kias 20 years ago…

  19. Well, given that Ashok Leyland has a stake in Optare, they need to make speaking/working with Optare’s design department a priority. Optare have always knocked out stunning designs well ahead of their time.

    Look at the Optare Delta – despite being designed in the late 1980s it still cuts it today in the looks department. It looked truly amazing back when they first hit the roads and completely futuristic compared to many other buses from that time.

    Ashok Leyland needs to get a decent/modern cab on the Dost make sure the quality is high and the price is right and, of course, it would sell.

    However, at the moment, it looks like a pimped-up rickshaw…

  20. Jon :
    I see that Ashok Leyland have even gone for a proper 1970s British Leyland paint and trim combo.

    You made me laugh. 🙂 The instrument panel is the simplest I’ve seen in years – even amongst LCVs.

    What happened to the Russian Sherpas? We even had someone in Denmark importing and marketing them.


  21. I’ve never heard of Ashok Leyland, so learnt something there. The two-tone interior trim and light colour seats look too good for a Utility vehicle. Interesting to see it though…

  22. @J181
    I always thought that Optare made some ugly and really quite awkward looking designs – blobby and out of proportion.

  23. The Dost’s interior has to be the lowest quality cabin I have ever seen – it looks similar to the 1971 Morris Marina, which was probably better quality than this decidedly Third World offering.

  24. That’s the point – the Dost is a third world offering!

    Ashok Leyland won’t have any intention of trying to sell it here, it’s just built for India, Africa etc. where they need to be sold very cheaply and have less strict Construction and Use rules.

    The Dost is luxury when compared to, say, a 3-wheeled motor rickshaw. That’s just the market it’s aimed at!

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