Daimler unveils BharatBenz trucks in India


Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), the Indian subsidiary of global truck maker Daimler AG, on Friday unveiled a new range of trucks under BharatBenz, a brand that has been dedicated entirely to one market for the first time in the history of the over-a-century-old German company.

At a special premiere in Hyderabad on Friday, DICV chief executive officer and managing director Marc Llistosella said, “We will start our market launch during September with the introduction of three models, followed by the launch of 17 models covering the entire spectrum – starting from 6-tonnage light commercial vehicles to up to 49-tonne heavy-duty trucks – over the next 20 months.”

Daimler, which launched its first truck in India way back in 1954, floated DICV in 2009. The company has tested the new range for over 4.5-million kilometre on its test track within its 400-acre Oragadam plant near Chennai during 2010, before unveiling the BharatBenz brand last year. The BharatBenz range had been developed on Daimler subsidiary Fuso’s Canter and Mercedes-Benz’s Axor.

“The genesis of these new products is the return,” Llistosella said. “The BharatBenz range is 85 per cent localised to stay price-competitive. We roughly have 400 suppliers, with 41 per cent of the total value coming from within a 50-kilometre radius of Tamil Nadu,” he said, adding BharatBenzs would give fuel efficiency in double digits and that the customer would make money in the first six months.

In phases, BharatBenz trucks will be sold and serviced over a network of 70 dealerships. This will be extended to more than 100 dealerships by 2014. Daimler has tied up with banks and commercial vehicle financiers like HDFC, ICICI Bank and Sundaram Finance besides ensuring support through captive financing.

Stating that BharatBenz trucks were being positioned in the volume segment, Llistosella said DICV was not targeting any market share. “Market share is just incidental. We are preparing ourselves to be a significant player in the market.”

On the Chennai plant, VRV Sriprasad, vice-president (marketing, sales and after sales), said DICV had already invested Rs 4,400 crore, one of the biggest investments outside Europe that Daimler had ever made.

The Chennai plant currently has a capacity of 36,000 units in a single shift. The facility has been configured to take on additional capacities and could be scaled up to 70,000 units as the demand grows, without high investments, he said.

Replying to a query, Llistosella said DICV would start exports of BharatBenz trucks from the Chennai plant from 2013. “If we can do it in India, we can do it anywhere. That (exports) is our target,” he said, while declining to identify the target countries or regions for exports.