Daimler to launch Mitsubishi Fuso trucks in India

German commercial vehicle maker Daimler today said it would introduce lightweight trucks from Mitsubishi Fuso stable in the Indian market by 2010 as part of its expansion strategy in the country's auto mart.

Daimler AG, which holds 85 per cent stake in Japanese auto giant Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, has a commercial vehicles operation in India under Mercedes Benz India.

A Daimler AG spokesperson told PTI from Germany that the company would introduce Fuso Canter range of light trucks in India in 2010.

"After introduction of Fuso Canter in 2010, we will ramp up production of new products for the Indian volume market in 2012," the official said.

Daimler had planned to set up a new plant in Chennai through a joint venture with the Hero Group with an investment of Rs 4,400 crore. However, after the Hero Group pulled out, it decided to go solo and bought out the 40 per cent holding of the Munjals for Rs 78.48 crore in April.

Without confirming the investment on the Chennai plant, the Daimler spokesperson said the company had started constructing the facility there and there were "no changes in our strategy... We are in plan".

The Fuso Canter range of trucks, which have been in production since 1963, are highly successful models from Mitsubishi portfolio globally.

Mercedes Benz India currently produces the Actros range of mining trucks and buses from its Chakan plant in Maharashtra.

Asked about reports of Daimler talking to Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor to explore the possibility of partnerships in the commercial vehicles venture, the spokesperson declined to comment.

Earlier this year, the Hero Group had pulled out of its joint venture with Daimler to produce trucks in India due to the economic slowdown.

After Daimler acquired Hero's stake, the JV was rechristened as Daimler India Commercial Vehicles from the earlier Daimler Hero Commercial Vehicles.

Last year the two companies agreed to form a JV in which the German firm was to have a 60 per cent stake and the Hero Group the rest. While Daimler was supposed to put in Rs 1,368 crore, Hero was to pump in Rs 900 crore in the JV.

The facility, spread over 400 acres in Chennai, was envisaged to have an initial production capacity of 70,000 units.

The JV had planned to have a localisation level of 80 per cent when it starts entering the Indian commercial vehicles market by 2010.