Highway Jottings-8

6 min readJun 3, 2024


For the first time in my 15-year association, I noticed his monogrammed buttoned bespoke black shirt. ‘VN’ in white lettering (100 point size, san serif?) embroidered elegantly over the left chest, slightly above the absentee shirt pocket. By the by, VN stands for Vipul Nanda.

At the helm of Pallia Trans Logistics, Vipul Nanda serves as the Chairman, leading a well-known car carrier company that services almost all Indian automobile giants. His assistance in ferrying their mint-fresh vehicles — passenger cars, buses, and trucks — from manufacturing sites to regional yards and dealer networks across India is a testament to his steadfastness and expertise in the field.

In addition to these core services, he diversified into yard management. Notably, the Pallia-born transport veteran has stepped towards sustainable transportation by operating an innovative electric taxi service for corporates. This move, showcasing his unwavering commitment to environmental responsibility and his ability to adapt to changing market trends, is truly inspiring.

From 2010 to 2019, Nanda’s reputation was so strong that he was courted by international giants — Mercurio of Italy, Gefco of France and the Russian Railways — as an equity partner. However, in 2019, he strategically decided to regain total control of his company through an amicable buyout. This decision, driven by his vision for the company’s future and his unwavering belief in his leadership capabilities, showcases his strategic thinking and determination.

Yes, these are old and stale stories. So, what’s new?

To discover the latest developments on his plate, I ventured into his corporate office on the sixth floor of Vipul Square (no, he doesn’t own the complex!) in Gurugram, less than a kilometre from his penthouse residence. I exited with a fresh load of inputs regarding his family-owned business’s future course of direction.

First things first.

Jishnu, the eldest of the two sons with a degree from Symbiosis, Pune, inducted a few summers ago and about to be betrothed a few full moons away, is busy minding the e-taxi vertical, besides assisting dad in steering Pallia Translogistics.

His younger bro, Naman (in red Tee), opted out of pursuing a degree in the cool climes of Canada after enrolment to jump into the family business on the operations, occupying the office in Carterpuri surrounded by a team of dedicated and long-serving colleagues, 400 metres away from Gate №.2 of Maruti Suzuki, India’s numero uno passenger car maker and one of Pallia Translogistics prime clients.

Nanda Sr admits that the succession agenda is in full swing. “When they show interest in joining and steering the business, why not?” With spouse Pooja as a director in the family-owned business lending support, he focuses on his core strength: business development.

Was it not this quality that drew partners from across the globe in the first place? After all, business generation is a key ingredient for any venture to succeed and grow. Now that he had regained full control of his empire, the family’s support was a true blessing, fostering a sense of unity and shared values.

The company recently took the inorganic route of adding business and fleet strength by taking over two car-carrier companies. When last accounted for, the tally stood at 380. Recently, he added farm tractor movement into his kitty with an initial fleet strength of 10. You name the tractor makers, and they are his clients: Mahindra, Sonalika, Yuvraj, Kabuki Escorts, New Holland, etc.

Is ten adequate to meet the growing demand for tractors in India? “We also use the conventional car carriers when needed. These 10 are dedicated and customized for tractor movement,” clarifies Nanda. Tractor carriers had a run-in with state transport authorities for a long time over vehicle dimensions and carrying capacity.

Nanda is no novice in this arena. During his Presidency of the 2016-incepted Car Carrier Association, he collaborated with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to solve the vehicle dimension challenge, with the government approving 18.75 metres as the approved length. Similarly, his newfound love of tractor transportation led him to design a customized carrier to accommodate ten tractors in two decks.

What pushed him into tractor transportation? Simple. With Maruti Suzuki opting to dispatch more passenger vehicles by rail, the road’s volume is shrinking, thus creating some idle capacity. This rail preference has significantly led many seasoned car carriers to foray into rail marg by inducting rail rakes.

Does Pallia Translogistics not explore rail? A few years ago, it did eye that segment with its French partner Gefco, and subsequently, the Russian Railways showed interest, given their rail logistics expertise. However, this did not fructify. The economics did not work favourably perhaps then.

Has his interest waned? He is non-committal. The car carrier business dynamics are changing. Small players are in a tight squeeze, and the grapevine has it that an exit is their solitary option. In such a scenario, those vehicles will evaporate, thus reducing the numbers and creating a fresh demand-supply ratio, favouring the better-managed existing players. It is not that Maruti Suzuki or other automakers would totally scrap the road movement. Despite the notion that rail is more environmental-friendly than road, the 100% modal shift from road to road s is an impossible and improbable proposition.

Meanwhile, interestingly, more and more car carriers are taking the curtained trailer route, including Pallia Translogistics. A decade ago, high-end and premium global auto giants such as BMW, Mercedes Benz, etc., would insist on curtained trailers moving from manufacturing sites to dealer outlets for better handling and management during such transits. It was perceived as the best option to reduce, if not eliminate, the in-transit damage.

Of course, Maruti Suzuki deployed such curtained trailers for its export quota. Its vehicles would be dispatched from Manesar and Gurgaon in Haryana to Mundra Port, Gujarat. This insistence on curtained carriers was not for domestic movement. However, here again, the auto giant is shifting gears. Lately, the number of sightings of these types of vehicles has increased. However, these are a few lakhs of rupees more expensive than the conventional metallic sides.

Car carrier operators have sensed Maruti Suzuki’s mood and are gradually taking corrective steps to be in its good books. Has this led to reduced in-transit damage? It is yet to be ascertained. Nonetheless, this is a good corporate gesture towards green logistics and sustainability: less metal translates into better vehicle aerodynamics, plus saving precious natural resources (iron) and non-renewable fuel and the resultant pollution in the manufacturing stage.

The clean fuel transition offers Pallia Translogistics some fresh business opportunities. It is a well-known fact that Reliance Group is investing heavily in hydrogen power projects and fabricating hydrogen-powered vehicles at its Jamnagar facility. Pallia Translogistics handles moving Ashok Leyland chassis from Hosur, Tamilnadu, on flatbed (truck on truck) carriers.

The changing domestic civil aviation arena is another opportunity Nanda is cashing in. What has aviation got to do with car carrier-focused Pallia Translogistics? Hang on.

The ground facilities are pivotal, with several new civil airports sprouting across India. For instance, low-bedded air-conditioned buses transport passengers from the aircraft parked on the tarmac to the terminal or from departure lounges to the aircraft. Airline operators resort to moving their bus fleet from existing airport terminals to new ones. Nanda has pitched in for this transhipment. “Yes, it is a new business, and it is a growing,” he added.

But the biggest change is his foray into freight forwarding, which is now a new joint venture rather than a solo operation.

More about this in the next dispatch.

(To be continued)




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