After establishing its BharatBenz trucks in the Indian commer­cial vehicle market, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DicV), a subsidiary of Stuttgart-based Daimler AG, has now taken another major step, when it Inaugurated its bus manufac­turing plant last month at Oragadam, Tamil Nadu. With an investment of ?425 crore, and spread across an area of 28 acres, the DicV plant will manu­facture and assemble buses under two brands – Mercedes-Benz and Bharat­Benz, The plant is set up for an ini­tial capacity of 1,500 units, which can be further expanded to 4,000 units as per market demand. For buses this is a big plant.

The Dlcv plant produces trucks, buses and engines for three brands – Mercedes-Benz, BharatBenz and fuso ■» under one roof. The bus chassis are rolled out from the same assembly line as that of BharatBenz trucks. With the addition of the bus plant, DicV is all set to expand its busi­ness in India and offer a variety of commercial vehicles for Indian and overseas markets.

“This is another milestone for Daimler and it takes our business to the next level,” said Wolfgang Bern- hard, member of the board of manage­ment responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses, said after inaugurating
the plant. “We have become firmly established in the Indian market with our BharatBenz brand. We con­tinue to strengthen our presence in the Indian commercial vehicle mar­ket with new products.”

BharatBenz buses manufactured at the plant will be front-engine ones, meant for short distance travel and will target schools, staff trans­port, and tourist transportation. The premium segment Mercedes-Benz rear-engine buses will cater to the Intercity segment. Buses, with gross vehicle weight of 9, 16 and 16-plus tonne range, will be manufactured from this plant.Daimler India has partnered with Wrightbus, a leading global player in bus body building. “The growth in the industry will position India as the second largest bus market, and the new facility will create 1,300 jobs for DicV and Wrightbus Inter­national,” says Markus Villinger, managing director, Daimler Buses India. “We see enormous potential for growth in the Indian market. For example, we expect the volume of the Indian market for buses weigh­ing over 8 tonnes to more than dou­ble by the year 2020”, adds Hartmut Schick, head, Daimler Buses.

To take advantage of opening up the mining sector in India, Daim­ler has launched its locally man­ufactured truck – 3143. The truck was tested in Indonesian mines for reliability and durability. The BharatBenz 3143 is a high-powered, fuel-efficient mining truck that will bridge the gap in the industry that currently offers premium trucks and trucks that are underpowered, it has been developed on the existing Daimler heavy-duty truck platform. It has been recently launched for the Indian market and is manufactured at the Oragadam plant in Chennai. The truck has a four-axle configura­tion with 430 HP and uses the OM 457 Mercedes-Benz engine.

BharatBenz has sold over 20,000 trucks since it set up shop in India in 2012. “India has a lot of natural resources like coal, iron and other minerals. We expect the Indian tip­per industry to grow substantially by 2020”, says Erich Nesselhauf, MD k CEO, DicV.

The existing 80 dealerships net­work of Dlcv will take care of both the truck and bus markets, cover­ing 85 per cent of the Indian market. Daimler’s financial arm will con­tinue to support its customers for the bus business.

Under the umbrella of Daimler Trucks Asia, Dlcv and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck k Bus Corporation (METBc) have combined their strengths to tap into further sales potential. METBc is an integral part of the Daimler Trucks Division of Daimler ag. How­ever, while DicV focusses on the Indian market and countries such as Nepal, METBc will service the ris­ing demand in the Asian and African regions, with its existing portfolio of EUso trucks produced from its plants in Kawasaki and Chennai. METBc belongs to Daimler Ag, which has 89.29 per cent of its shares and the brand Fuso Truck.

DicV will compete with the exist­ing players – Tata Motors, Ashok Ley- land, Eichet, Volvo and Scania. With the Indian economy gaining momen­tum, Dlcv officials are upbeat about their products.

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