Projected sales of Leyland Trucks’ new Comet range of vehicles, launched this week, have been hit by the continued strength of sterling.
Launch of the Comet destined for developing world markets was also delayed partly because of unsold stocks of the outgoing model.
Sales and marketing director Stuart Heys said that sales of 300 400 new Comets were expected in the coming year with sterling at current levels, compared with 500 ‘in a good year’.
This level is profitable because Comet production is integrated on the same assembly line as Leyland’s other vehicles.
Key markets are sub-Saharan Africa, and direct sales to UK construction companies for use overseas.
Leyland is recruiting engineers for its design department and expects to meet its target of 200,000 vehicles annually by 2005 by expanding all its sales activities: European trucks, military vehicles, international sales, parts, and contract assembly for Isuzu.
Production has risen from 6,000 to 100,000 vehicles a year since the £190m turnover company was formed five years ago in a management buyout after the collapse of Leyland Daf.
The Comet range includes trucks from 12 24 tonnes capacity, with 4×2, 4×4 and 6×4 configurations. Improvements include more powerful Cummins engines and better driveline components.
Leyland does not expect to increase its assembly workforce but is looking to expand its 100-strong design team by about 15.
‘We are looking for a mixture of graduates and engineers with experience in vehicle dynamics, 3D CAD and electronic systems,’ said product development director Keith Howard.