We're getting impatient but there's no easy win here: Marc Llistosella


Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), subsidiary of Daimler, Germany, has relaunched itself in the Indian market. Marc Llistosella, managing director and chief executive officer, speaks to Swaraj Baggonkar at its launch of made-in-India trucks. Edited excerpts:

You are starting with how many units?

Three models for the time being but that is the problem — we should have all the 17 models on sale, then we look good. But we will have to go step by step.

So, how many more can one expect?

After six-seven years, we are getting impatient I want to see the fruits of all our hard work. The next launch can happen in a few months. We are making sure we have four. Then, next year, we will have nine or 10 and eventually, in the first quarter of 2014, one or two or even more.

Your pricing is marginally above those offered by Tata Motors.

Our 2523 truck is priced at Rs 15.7-17.2 lakh. Our trucks offer better power, with the best mileage compared to any truck on sale in India. The customer has to pay only that much extra but what he gets in return is much more, so we had to price out products at a slight premium.

You are not looking at the 1-tonne light truck segment, where all the action is?

We are not there yet. We are focused on the medium and heavy duty truck segment but we might have it later.

Foreign auto brands, especially in the passenger vehicle segment, have struggled to gain a foothold in India. This means it is not easy to penetrate the local market. This is a challenge for DICV.

There was Hindustan Motors much before Maruti but where are they today? I would not say India is static; the only thing is that you cannot make an easy win. You really have to get a way out of what you are dealing with and that means lot of study.

But getting market share away from the bigger players would be a challenge.

You cannot pull a product from a foreign market and decide to have it here; that's never going to work. This is why I say India is an extremely exciting market. One of the CV players has up to 90 per cent market share in some pockets. Is it not possible for a new player to have a role to play there?

What is the capacity of the manufacturing plant in Chennai?

The plant is at Oragadam, near Chennai, and tuned to produce 36,000 units per year. We will achieve that capacity in two years and then look at further expansion.