Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) plans to launch one truck variant a month for the next 17 months from its Oragadam manufacturing plant near Chennai.

The launch will include 9-12-tonne vehicles and tractor trailers, said Marc Llistosella, Managing Director and CEO, Daimler India, a 100 per cent subsidiary of the world’s largest truck-maker. Depending on the market response, the company will double the plant’s production capacity to nearly 72,000 units, he told newspersons at the plant after launching three new categories of vehicles.

The Indian truck market, which is 30-40 per cent down, is really challenging.

“This is the worst that the market has seen in the last 50 years. However, we are here with an absolutely good product,” he said.

Around 3 lakh trucks of various categories were sold in India last year. This is expected to go up to 5 lakh in a few years. The company’s market share ranges between 8 per cent and 36 per cent, depending on the market, he said.

Sluggish market

The truck market at present is sluggish. “This is partially homemade and partially due to global financial friction. However, we have sold out all our inventory and we have not reduced our production plan,” he said. The company is also increasing its dealer network to nearly 80 by the end of the year from 32 now.

“Our biggest challenge is to win over customers’ minds. India is a very emotional market. We are comfortable, but not very comfortable. We have to first stabilise in this market. For this, a good supply chain is important,” he said. Around 85 per cent of the parts for the vehicles are sourced from local suppliers, he said.

Llistosella said that in September 2012, the company delivered its first heavy-duty truck. “We are extremely encouraged by the highly positive feedback and through repeat orders,” he said.

The launch of light-duty BharatBenz-branded trucks today was a major milestone for the company, which has invested Rs 4,400 crore in the plant located in the automobile cluster of Oragadam, 35 km away from Chennai.

Launches

While the 914 and 1214 (both rigid category) trucks are for the haulage segment, the 1217 (tipper) vehicle is for the construction sector. These vehicles will now be commercially available through dealers, said the company in a press release.

The new trucks are based on Fuso Fighter chassis and Canter Cab, which is Daimler Trucks’ technical platform.

Albert Kirchmann, President, MFTBC (Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation), and Vice-Chairman, DICV, said the entire Daimler truck world is watching this new brand with interest.

Today, along with China, it is one of the most promising markets. The new trucks have been localised to suit the specific needs of Indian customers with focus on high fuel-efficiency, cabin comfort and cabin safety, he said.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 20, 2013)
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