Daimler trucks enter India as BharatBenz with $887.9 million investment

World’s second largest truck manufacturer, Daimler trucks announced their arrival in one of the fastest growing auto market and the third largest truck market in the world – India. Daimler India Commercial Vehicles – DICV will sell Heavy Duty Trucks (HDT) and Light Duty Trucks (LDT) in India under the brand BharatBenz. First trucks will be available by the third quarter of 2012.

In all, BharatBenz plans to launch 17 trucks in India over the next 20 months. BharatBenz LDT’s will be based on Fuso Canter platform which is developed by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation. Daimler AG owns 89.39% stake in Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation. BharatBenz LDT’s will feature four cylinder diesel engine in 145 bhp and 175 bhp variants.

BharatBenz will launch themselves in the Indian truck market with three trucks later this year. Officials did not reveal details regarding what trucks will be launched first but they did confirm that BharatBenz HDT’s will be available in 9, 12, 25, 31 and 49 tonnes range. BharatBenz HDT’s will be based on Mercedes Benz Axor platform and will be powered by a six cylinder diesel engine to be available in 231 bhp and 280 bhp variants.

Earlier today, at the unveiling of BharatBenz range of trucks in Hyderabad, Mr. Marc Llistosella, MD & CEO, DICV, said: “Today is a proud moment for all of us at Daimler as we present the outcome of our hard work over the last years – the first range of BharatBenz trucks. BharatBenz, as a brand, stands for our commitment to India. It is the first time ever that Daimler has dedicated a brand entirely to one market. Also, with an overall investment of Rs. 4,400 crore, it is one of the biggest Greenfield investments outside Europe that Daimler has ever made.”

“Today’s presentation of BharatBenz products is a significant moment for us. Following a long development phase and over 4.5 million kilometers of testing at our Oragadam proving grounds, we are more than ready to conquer the Indian market. The fact that Daimler is offering a brand for the Indian market shows how important this region is for us. We are investing 44 billion rupees  into highly modern development and production facilities, thus demonstrating our commitment to this fascinating country,” Mr Llistosella added.

DICV has built a plant in Oragadam near Chennai which is built over a 400 acre plot of land and has a capacity to produce 36,000 trucks annually. DICV said that they have achieved 85% localization in manufacturing BharatBenz trucks. DICV will have 70 dealerships across India at first and will later increase the number of dealerships to 100 by 2014.

Daimler Financial Services is already present in India and will take care of financial assistance needed by BharatBenz customers. DICV has also offered finance options via Sundaram Finance, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank.

Mr Andreas Renschler, Daimler Board of Management Member responsible for Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses, was also present during BharatBenz premiere in Hyderabad today. He said, “India’s volume segment promises considerable growth accompanied by a rise in customer expectations. Our Global Excellence Strategy is bearing fruit here. Using existing truck platforms as a basis, we developed new products specifically for the Indian market, which are also manufactured and sold here in India. Like all Daimler commercial vehicles, BharatBenz trucks will fulfill customers’ expectations with regard to quality, reliability, and efficiency.”

Earlier in February, DICV announced that Indian tire manufacturer, JK Tyre has bagged the deal to supply tires for BharatBenz trucks. JK Tyre too has a plant near Chennai which will help BharatBenz to save on transportation costs. JK Tyre Sriperumbudur plant has a capacity to manufacturer 400,000 truck radial tires annually.