Charging ahead

Daimler Trucks Asia- IAA 2016 copy

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles charges ahead with a mix of rising domestic sales and a strong exports drive.

Story by:

Anusha B

It was in March 2012 that Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, unveiled its new range of trucks under the BharatBenz brand. The company held a special event spanning six-days at the Hyderabad International Convention Center, where the media, potential customers and brand partners including dealers and suppliers were able to see the trucks up and close. The event followed the announcement from the company that it will seek a presence in the CV segments in India ranging from 9 to 49-tonnes. Truck models to that effect – light-duty and heavy-duty, were showcased. A sale of 1000 trucks was achieved in 2012. In May 2013, the company announced its Indian strategy under its forward-looking programme, Daimler Trucks No. 1. The first outcome of the programme resulted in the launch of a new robust ‘Made in India’ truck portfolio under the Fuso brand for exports. Supported by rising domestic sales and a strong export drive, DICV, it is no secret, is pursuing growth. Expecting to break-even this year, the company, according to Marc Llistosella, President and CEO, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), and Head of Daimler Trucks Asia, has been able to offset its growth in the domestic market last year with exports. “Our path is promising, and we expect to break-even this year,” he said.

Expecting to be profitable from 2018, DICV, it is certain will continue to follow the strategy of driving exports while it increases its reach in the domestic market. Exports of DICV trucks made at the Oragadam plant ammounted to 4500 units in 2016. In 2015, 2100 units were exported. So far, 7500 trucks have been exported to over 30 markets. Exports of parts from DICV’s extensive Indian supplier base to other Daimler entities in Japan, Europe, North America and Brazil, have crossed 35 million. The domestic performance of the company may reflect from the degrowth of seven per cent, it were the exports that made a difference. A total of 13,081 trucks were sold in the domestic market by the company in 2016. In 2015, 13,997 units were sold. Until now, sources close to the company claim, 40,000 BharatBenz trucks have been put on the road. Said Llistosella, “The Indian operation is a cornerstone of our success at Daimler Trucks Asia. With the launch of a third product line for exports, we will enter the next stage in the strategic collaboration of DICV and MFTBC. DICV will start production of this new series of trucks – sub-9 tonne vehicles, shortly. These would initially be exported as Fuso brand variants.” “The first customer vehicles will roll out in the first half of the year,” he added.

According to Erich Nesselhauf, MD & CEO, DICV, the focus on profitable growth continued in 2016. “A mixed year for the Indian CV industry 2016 was. We were able to compensate the current challenges in the domestic market with our successful export story. With new products in the pipeline, we are geared up for further growth.” Clear about offering fully-built trucks and buses, the implementation of BSIV emission norms in April this year are likely to work to the advantage of the company, which announced last year that product transition to BSIV emission norms has been accomplished. “With BharatBenz, we have the best technology in the market. The CVs are based on proven solutions, and enable use to be fully ready to sell BSIV vehicles in India. Feedback from our customers for our BSIV vehicles clearly indicates that we are perfectly positioned for the transition,” expressed Nesselhauf. He mentioned, “Continuing discussions on BSIV are reflecting upon the attempt of some players in the Indian commercial vehicle industry to dilute this upcoming transition of emissions standards. It should not be diluted by commercial interests. There is no acceptable reason for any delay, as everyone in the industry has had enough time to get ready for the transition. We also believe that our BSIV vehicles are economically beneficial to our customers since they deliver more mileage (kilometer per litre) compared to BSIII versions. Superior efficiency of BSIV trucks can help to reduce the import bill of the Government of India,” explained Nesselhauf. He further stated, “We have been selling BSIV emission compliant CVs since August 2015. The feedback we received was positive.” The company has trained its dealers to cater to its new-tech trucks.

The new generation BharatBenz heavy-duty trucks launched in the coming months, will be key growth drivers, claim Daimler India sources. In Its been three years after the launch of BharatBenz CVs that the company is presenting a new range of medium-duty trucks. Upgrading the entire truck portfolio with the launch of its new generation heavy-duty trucks in the segment between 16 and 49 tonne GWV, the company rolled out the 50,000th CV recently. The roll out marked a production milestone in August 2016. Localisation levels of trucks are claimed to be as high as 92 per cent. With air conditioned cabins on offer, the new BharatBenz trucks are expected to reduce driver fatigue, a major cause for accidents in India.

Erich Nesselhauf- MD&CEO- DICV copy

With the ecanter, the third generation of the world’s first fully-electric light truck under the Fuso brand marking a leap forward, DICV, as part of Daimler’s Asia strategy, continues to look forward to a brighter future. The ecanter, based on the modular battery concept, can cover up to 100 km on a single charge.

MLlistosella copy

It takes less than an hour to charge 80 per cent of the battery. Payback time is expected to be three years. With a payload capacity of two to three-tonne, the trial run of the ecanter is said to have highlighted a saving of around Euro 1000 per 10,000 km. This vehicle will be delivered to the customers in Europe, the US and Japan.