BharatBenz High-Five

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Three BharatBenz trucks ran from Chennai to Ludhiana and back via Kolkata and Vijaywada to celebrate the five years of Daimler India Commercial Vehicles.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

Photos:

Mahesh Reddy & DICV

It is past midnight as the convoy of three trucks gets on the highway to Mumbai. It is part of an initiative by Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) to celebrate five years of its journey in India. Starting from the DICV plant at Oragadam on the outskirts of Chennai on August 22, 2017, the convoy, under the ‘High Five’ campaign, will cover 19 major cities across India. Comprising of BharatBenz 1214, BharatBenz 2523, and BharatBenz 3123, the convoy will travel over a distance of 8000 km in one month. It will stop at dealerships, dhabas, and transport nagars, highlighting the advantages of a BharatBenz truck. I have travelled to Pune to join the convoy. Pune is one of the 50 stops the campaign will take during its journey. I have been given the opportunity to drive one of the three trucks as the campaign travels from Pune to Mumbai. Travelling with me is Rajaram Krishnanmurthy, Vice President, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles.

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High Five

There is good amount of traffic as we hit the Pune By-Pass, rolling out of the Ghatge Trucking BharatBenz dealership. The By-pass will lead us to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. To my surprise, the BharatBenz 1214 that I am at the wheel of, is easier to pilot than I had expected earlier. A modern truck, it is ergonomically arranged. My thoughts take me back in time to the day I drove a similar camoflauged truck at Hyderabad in 2012. When I tell this to Rajaram, he responds, “The Indian trucks have made a positive impression in Africa. The chances of a truck driver returning safe from the journey are full if he drives a truck made by Daimler in India.” His words surprise me. It takes a while before they sink in. It is silence for a few moments before he speaks: “In Africa, the terrain is so harsh that only the tough survive. If a truck breaks down during a journey, the safety of the crew is at risk.” Marketing and selling Indian made Daimler trucks in Africa for a good three to four years, Rajaram came to observe that many African markets do not have any emission norms. There are some markets, he mentions, where the competition includes used trucks sourced from Europe. Hinting at Indian Daimler trucks driving a change in Africa, Rajaram announces, “Much has changed in India over the years that I was in Africa.”

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“Three years back when I left, the growth of the company was different. Now it is different. With BSIV emission norms coming in, and with technology by our side, a big change that I have come to observe is that customers are listening to technology. When I left for the international markets, it was about price. It was about the offer. Today, the same people are talking about technology,” he says. Referring to the ‘High Five’ campaign, Rajaram avers, “We want to celebrate the fifth anniversary of BharatBenz with more than 50,000 trucks on road. We want to involve our customers, drivers and partners. We want to thank them for trusting our brand and our products.” My thoughts are drawn to an event at Mumbai in 2012 when the BharatBenz HDT truck provided an insight into what a BharatBenz truck is like. It provided an insight into the technology that was leveraged from Daimler operations the world over. During the Hyderabad event, an engineer informed me that the cab suspension was based on a design found on Daimler’s Latin American trucks. As I tell this to Rajaram, he reveals,“ We will soon start rolling out Freightiner brand of trucks at Chennai for export to Latin American markets.” On the same line at Chennai are produced the BharatBenz, Fuso and Mercedes-Benz brand of trucks. “The Indian customer gets the same quality of truck that a Mercedes-Benz truck customer gets in an export market,” says Rajaram. “We export Mercedes-Benz trucks to the Indonesian market, and the Freightliner trucks will be exported to Latin American markets,” he explains.

Made in India

As he unveiled the BharatBenz HDT truck in 2102, Marc Llistosella, the then CEO and MD of DICV, announced that it was based on the Mercedes-Benz Axor platform. “We spent six years without any return, and now is the time,” he said. We indulged in extensive testing; we built a test track at our facility. We tested each and every component; tested everything. We tested for three long years. We gathered unique knowledge. We went after hardware engineering. Not very fancy, but innovative,” informed Llistosella. When I mention this to Rajaram, he avers, “the buyer was interested in price when we tried conveying technology during the move up to BSIII emission norms. He asked us about price, and about the discount. The same buyer today is asking about technology.”

Not much sound is entering the cabin. Our conversation poses no hurdles. Passing through the cities of Salem, Coimbatore, Kochi and Bangalore, the High-Five campaign stopover at Pune saw Rajaram and Satish Ghatge (the proprietor of Ghatge Trucking) hand over five spanking new BharatBenz trucks to their respective buyers. The ceremony saw BharatBenz owners drive to the dealership to interact with Rajaram and his team; with the dealer and his team. Some are into long-haul business, and some are into the construction business. They expressed that they are happy about their decision to purchase a BharatBenz truck because it is reliable and efficient.

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The Expressway

The convoy rolls down the Expressway, and it is clocking good speeds. Says Rajaram, “The abolision of barriers due to GST entails a smooth drive for a truck. It can now travel more kilometers. Drivers can drive for more time, and over longer distances.” “It is under these circumstances that the comfort factor assumes importance,” he quips. The sale of fully-built cabin is rising according to Rajaram. My thoughts go to Eric Nesselhauf, MD & CEO, DICV, announce that they will offer fully built trucks only. It was on the eve of the first truck rolling out of the assembly line at Chennai. When I mention this to Rajaram, he quickly responds, “We have observed that speeds have multiplied since April. A truck that was averaging 30 kmph is now averaging 55 kmph. A truck often runs for 70 to 80 kms at a stretch with an average speed of 55 kmph. Since the truck is driving at high speeds, it has to have a safe cabin.” “With SCR technology, there is a reduction in overall costs. To increase operator profitability, we look at cutting costs. We are the only manufacturer that did not increase the cost of the truck after migration to BSIV,” he explains. The decision has led to DICV gaining traction opines Rajaram. He explains that the assembly lines are running full; seven days a week. “We are addressing the issue of a waiting period of four to six weeks,” he quips.

The journey

We cross the Talegaon toll post. The ‘High-Five’ campaign stickers on the door are attracting attention. Once past the toll plaza, it does not take long to regain good speeds. Speeds in the region of 60-80 kmph provide a glimpse of how modern and capable this truck is becoming. There’s no hint of fatigue. If the power steering is making it easy to maneouvre, the ample glass area and the wide mirrors are providing a good view of the surrounding. Pointing at the instrument panel, Rajaram opines, “The driver has to have comfort if he is to drive for more than 300 kms.” “Revenue will come by driving more, and driving longer distances. By doing more trips,” he avers. Informing that every third truck sold by DICV is air-conditioned, Rajaram states, “A gazette notification came out last week, which mandates a ventilation system or an AC. We are pushing for an AC cabin because they are the best for Indian truck drivers as India develops.” It starts to rain. The wipers begin their task in earnest.

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As I slow down, another BharatBenz truck speeds past. A customer truck, ferrying vegetables perhaps, to the markets of Mumbai. We both notice. Mentions Rajaram that it is the ability to save 10 to 15 per cent fuel which makes us competitive for a transporter to operate a BharatBenz truck. “Fuel cost accounts for 60 per cent of the total operating cost. So, nine per cent of the total cost is saved,” he explains. Helping to tide over cyclicity and changes to the economy, DICV has had exports of trucks exceed expectations. Says Rajaram that they are experiencing growth in every segment. The company is starting second shift at the Chennai plant to address rising demand in the domestic market. Seeing a consolidation, and a clear differentiation between the efficient and the not so efficient operators, DICV, claims Rajaram, has got repeat orders as well as new orders from new customers. “When the operators approach us to purchase trucks, they are aware of how much money an operator is making out of a Bharat-Benz truck. It provides a clear signal for them to switch. The new purchases that happened in the last three to four months, we got a share bigger than we had earlier,” he expresses.

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Stating that they will lead the market, Rajaram says that they will bring new connectivity series, which is telematics based. There are other features that DICV will offer. In the case of connected truck technologies like AEB and driver assistance system, DICV will bring them when the market is ready. “We have them,” expresses Rajaram. Electronics, it is clear, could find use in many areas, especially with the move up to Euro6 emission regulations in 2020. Drawing attention to the trend of rated load coming in, Rajaram mentions, “With the long-haul market already functioning at rated load, we will make sure our customers get the best product.” The winding ghat roads of Lonavala and Khandala have had an effect on the traffic. The heavy traffic is moving slowly as vehicles negotiate the seemingly sharp turns and winding stretches. At the end of the section, we pull into the lay-by area. My journey with the ‘High-Five’ campaign convoy has ended. Bidding adeu, I climb into the cab. The trucks look smaller and smaller as the cab pulls away. The sky is changing colour. It is hinting at the start of yet another bright day.

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Rajaram Krishnamurthy, Vice President – Marketing & Sales, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles

Q. How do you look at the changes the Indian CV space has gone through?

A. Three years back when I left, the growth of the company was different. Now it is different. With BSIV emission norms coming in, and with technology by our side, one big change that I have come to observe upon my return to India is that customers are listening to technology. When I left for the international markets, it was about price. It was about the offer. Today, the same people are talking about technology. They want to know what is SCR; they want to know why SCR and why not EGR. When we tried conveying technology during the move up to BSIII emission norms, the buyer was more interested in price. He asked us about price, and about the discount. Today, he is asking us about technology.

Q. How is the CV buyer tying technology and costs?

A. Let us consider SCR technology, and the buyer is assured of the lifecycle of the truck. If the lifecycle goes down, the earnings of an operator are affected. This is where technology plays a role. It is not about getting two per cent or five per cent more. It is about the life of the vehicle. Truck buyers are therefore keen to know about the technology that goes into their truck, and how it will affect their capital.

Q. How do you draw the buyer’s attention with the gamut of technologies on offer?

A. Profitability comes from higher revenue and lower cost. Developments like GST have led to the disappearance of state barriers. Twenty-two states have abolished the barriers. This entails a smooth drive for a truck. The truck can travel more kilometers. With the drivers driving for more time, and over longer distances comfort factor assumes importance. Speeds have also gone up. We have observed that speeds have multiplied from April to July. A truck that was averaging 30 kmph is now averaging 55 kmph. A truck often runs for 70 to 80 kms at a stretch with an average speed of 55 kmph. Since the truck is driving at high speeds, it calls for a safe cabin. We offer a safety cabin. Also, revenue will come by driving more, and by doing more trips. With SCR technology, there is a reduction in overall costs. To facilitate better working, we are offering features like reverse camera, AC, e-viscous fan, etc. We are looking at cutting costs so that the profitability of the operator increases. We were the only manufacturer that did not increase the cost of the truck during the move up to BSIV.

Q. How has your decision to not increase the cost made an impact?

A. The impact has been positive. We are gaining higher traction, and our assembly lines are running full. We are working seven days a week. We have a waiting time of four to six weeks. Our order book is one and a half months. We need to supply more. The good part is, we have created a pull. Preference for our trucks is rising. We have buyers coming to us. Only when they know that we can’t supply, do they go to others. We are working on the challenge of reducing the waiting time for our customers.

Q. Given your presence in the nine to 49-tonne segments, which is growing the fastest?

A. We are experiencing growth in every segment. We are seeing higher growth in M&HCV segments over the nine-tonne segment. Our strategy is 50 per cent domestic and 50 per cent exports. Because of the order intake, domestic sales are more. We are pushing more in the domestic market.

Q. With the coming of GST, what change at the operator level do you see?

A. Earlier many operators used to bid for the same contract. Now, only the efficient ones are able to bid and win the contracts. It is indicative of efficiency going back into the costs. We are seeing a consolidation. Operators are consolidating. Clear differentiation between the efficient and not so efficient ones is taking place. Those who are efficient, and have the right solutions are winning the contracts. It is not about small and large operators, but about efficient and less efficient operators. Those who care for every Rupee they spend will stay in the game. Efficiency on every count – the record that you keep, the paper that you use, or the trucks that you operate, is becoming important.

Q. How are you helping an operator to increase his efficiency?

A. When the operators approach us to purchase trucks, they are aware of how much money an operator is making out of a BharatBenz truck. It provides a clear signal for them to switch. The new purchases that happened in the last three-four months, we got a share bigger than we had earlier. We got repeat orders as well as new orders fron new customers. Many walk into our dealerships and ask about what is the new technology available in a BSIV truck. They are not sure. This is because they don’t want to take a chance on what they don’t understand. When there is a new engine and a new platform on offer, an operator is keen to go with what is established. We have been doing Euro4 for the last twelve years. We are now doing Euro6 in Europe. This is not something that we did for the last one or two years. We were selling BSIV trucks even before BSIV emission regulations were implemented pan-India. With the move up to BSIV we have not effected any change to the engine we were offering earlier; there’s been no change in the transmission. We are using air-assisted SCR technology in heavy-duty CVs. In medium-duty CVs we are using air-less SCR technology.

Q. What makes air-assisted SCR tech suitable for one class of trucks, and air-less SCR tech suitable for another?

A. It depends on how many kilometres a truck travels. A heavy-duty truck travels 12000 to 15000 kms a month. A medium-duty truck travels 4000 to 5000 kms a month. We need to give a solution that is suitable for that application. It is about what the customer needs. What the customer needs, we are giving. It is about being cost competitive and fuel efficient.

Q. You have been pushing for an AC truck cabin?

A. A gazette notification came out last week that mandates a ventilation system or an AC. We would want to push for an AC cabin because AC cabins are best for Indian truck drivers as India develops. We are seeing a lot of growth in AC cabins. One in three trucks that we sell is an AC truck. Institutional buyers go for AC cabins. Also the first time buyers who are owner-operators. We are the only CV maker to provide an AC cabin in medium-duty trucks. Medium-duty trucks are typically single-unit owner driven trucks. Buyers of such trucks want to go for an ABS, and an AC. It is they who want to have comfort and safety.

Q. So, the profile of a trucker is changing?

A. Somewhere a realisation is coming in, that only when they are comfortable and safe will they be able to earn more. This change is happening for the last two-three years. This change could be attributed to the exposure the buyers are getting. They are becoming aware of what is happening in other markets.

Q. Freight rates have not grown for sometime. They are in fact dropping. Doesn’t that pose a challenge?

A. This is where efficiency comes in. If your trucks are not efficient you will not be able to participate in the tenders you were able to participate in earlier. Then, you were competitive. What makes it competitive today is the ability to save 10 to 15 per cent fuel. Fuel cost accounts for 60 per cent of the total operating costs. So, nine per cent of the total cost is saved. If five trips were accomplished earlier, the speed and torque of our trucks will enable the operator to do six trips. That one trip accounts for 20 per cent extra revenue. It is with such efficiency that an operator can still remain competitive even if the freight rates do not go up. With BSIV, the efficiency of our trucks has improved. In 2012, we said that our trucks will offer 10 per cent more efficiency when compared to what was available in the market. With BSIV we are talking about giving another 10 per cent on the top of what we offered on our BSIII trucks. We continue to raise the bar, and stay competitive.

Q. What new could we see coming from Daimler India Commercial Vehicles?

A. We will lead this market. When it comes to service, we were the one who said that it has to be done in an organised way. A service done properly will increase the life of a truck. With BSIV each truck has come to the workshop. We will bring new connectivity series, which is top-class. It will improve customer profitability. With the new connectivity series, which is telematics based, we will give more value. We are developing it with our parent company. The technology will come at an Indian cost. There are other features that we will bring too. In the case of connected truck technologies like AEB and driver assistance systems, we will be the first to bring them when the market is ready. We have them. It is a matter of the market being ready. The heavy-duty truck that we launched in Japan is the most advanced. It is a Fuso brand of trucks and packs in technologies like ABS, AEB and more. This truck indicates that we already have the technology. To bring such technologies, there has to be the volume support. A legislation would help, but the point is we have to offer the technology at the right time, and not before time where it finds it difficult to sell.

Q. How much more electronics could we see on trucks in India?

A. Electronics could find use in many areas. It could find use in maintenance systems; in safety systems. When Euro6 comes in, if the truck is not maintained properly, it will become Euro3. The Euro6 technology will call for advanced injection system; system to monitor fuel injection and supply, and whether the exhaust gas coming out of the tail pipe is of the right kind. Electronics plays an important role in ensuring that the truck is emission compliant. The same may not be the case in an EGR equipped vehicle after an amount of usage. We want our trucks to comply with the stipulated emission norms till the end of its life. The onboard diagnostics system we have on our trucks checks whether the truck emits as per the prescribed standard or not. If the truck emits more, it will go into the limp mode. It may not be an exaggeration to say that everything is right because of electronics. There are the NOx sensors; there are the other sensors. These could be omitted, and a way around it could be found. We however do not want to do it. We want to respect and abide by the emission regulations in spirit. We cannot cheat the customer. He expects the life of the vehicle to be longer. Continuous improvement is the way of life for us. In the area of weight, cost, efficiency, and more. We see a trend of rated loads coming in. The long-haul market is already rated load. If one state bans overload, the whole route turns rated load. Maharashtra and Gujarat for example are rated-load states. If a truck has to pass through these states, it has to have rated-load.

Q. How are the export markets panning out?

A. We are doing good in export markets. We are receiving very good response in the exports markets of Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. There’s very good response for ‘Made in India’ trucks that we offer under different brands. The Daimler India Commercial Vehicle plant at Chennai makes trucks under three brands. The three brands are BharatBenz, Fuso and Mercedes-Benz. Very soon we will also make trucks under the Freightliner brand on the same line. The trucks, made on the same line, share the same quality. The Indian customer thus gets the same quality of truck that a Mercedes-Benz truck customer gets in an export market. We export Mercedes-Benz trucks to the Indonesian market. The Freightliner trucks will be exported to the Latin American markets.

Q. Are you looking at the ODC market?

A. Currently the volumes do not justify. It is a 100 units market. We could import a truck and offer to the ODC market. Our priority is however to cater to the mass market. In the mass market, we want to be a premium player.

Q. A shift from economy trucks to mid-premium trucks seems to be on. How do you look at it?

A. Many years ago when we said that there was an opportunity, others laughed at us. We believed in India and its growth story. We knew that the customer will change, and accordingly developed trucks that will address his needs. This is the day we have been waiting for. It gives us the confidence to lead this market. What we did seven to eight years ago, others are doing now. They are following us. For example, we offered SCR technology in 2011. We will continue to set the benchmark in fuel efficiency, safety, comfort and technology. We will make sure that our customers get the best product. We have a network of 130 dealers. In India, we cover within two hours. The need is to have an efficient network that reaches the customer in the least time, put the truck back on the road and help the customer to have the best uptime. We reached the 50,000 sales mark last month. We are the fastest growing CV company in India. We want to grow faster.

Euro5 BharatBenz

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To mark five years of its journey, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles has introduced a Euro5 truck in India.

Story & Photos by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) has introduced a Euro5 ready truck in the medium-duty range of trucks it sells. Offering 14 truck models in the 9- to 49-segments, and under the medium-duty truck (MDT) and heavy-duty truck (HDT) nomenclature, the company is starting second shift at its Chennai plant to address the rise in demand for its trucks. Experiencing a positive uptake in the Indian market after the migration to BSIV emission norms, the company has sold over 50,000 trucks in its five years in India. Announcing a dedicated truck brand BharatBenz for India in 2011, DICV bridged the 10,000 units sales mark in 2014. Unveiling the first BharatBenz truck at Delhi in early 2012, and following up with an introduction of HDT truck at Mumbai the same year, DICV is looking at expanding its reach to 40 export markets by the end of this year over the current count of 38 markets. Beginning exports in 2013, and to the left-hand drive markets in 2014, DICV, in the domestic market has come be the number-three player in the HDT space. Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate five years of DICV in India, Marc Llistosella, Head of Daimler Trucks Asia, expressed that they have been changing the game in India. He drew attention to the Fuso eCanter his company has introduced in New York. The electric truck will complement the UPS fleet for last mile delivery in an urban environment.

Describing the eCanter as a game changer, and a solution from Daimler to address the new needs in urban haulage, Llistosella, revealed that they have achieved a nine-per cent growth in India. He averred, “We are seeing a marginal improvement in India.” The Asian business, in comparison, grew 25 per cent. Stating that the significant growth in the last few months gives him confidence, Llistosella remarked, “In 2012, we started with the launch of the HDT in Mumbai. We brought new standards in quality and safety. We also began exporting. Exports have doubled every year since. None of the new entrants have come close to where we are today.”

Banking on technology

Exporting trucks made at the Chennai plant to Indonesia under the Mercedes-Benz brand, DICV has exported 7000 trucks under different brands till date said Marc. Trucks sold domestically and those that are exported share the same line at the Chennai plant of DICV. They flaunt the same build quality thus. Confronting 60 per cent old trucks upon entry into the Indian market five years ago, Llistosella touched upon the cowl trucks. They are not safe, he quipped. Claiming that they were the first to offer fully-built trucks, Llistosella commented, “We were the first to offer a BSIV truck in India. It is us who have been pushing for a AC cabin. We feel that it is necessary for the driver who drives over longer distances. His getting tired has a safety imperative.” Stressing upon the obligation to bring new technology, Llistosella opined, “Now is the right time. Electrification of trucks is possible. It is possible in India with the support of the authorities. We need infrastructure, and we can do it. Daimler can do it.” Expressing that they have not achieved all that they wanted to achieve (in India), Llistosella mentioned that exports have exceeded their expectations. Averred Erich Nesselhauf, Managing Director & CEO, DICV, “We export to 38 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, New Zealand, and Africa. To address export aspirations as well as to address the rising demand in the domestic market, we have started second shift at the Chennai plant.” Erich expressed, “We have never waited for regulations.”

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Staying ahead of regulations

The push for AC truck cabin by DICV made news late last year. The company is continuing to push for AC cabins. The pursuit for AC cabins, said Erich, reflects on our strategy to not wait for the regulations. “We were the first to introduce crash tested cabins. We are exporting them to advanced markets. We were the first to introduce an AC in our trucks. We understand the need to deliver less polluting products. We will not wait for regulations. It is as per our strategy that we are introducing the Euro5 ready truck. It has 40 per cent NOx emissions than an Euro4 truck,” he explained. Offered on the MDT platform, which borrows heavily from the Fuso Canter platform, the Euro5 truck employs airless SCR technology. To meet Euro5 regulations, DICV engineers tweaked the SCR and engine management system.

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Capable of withstanding the variation in the quality of Diesel in India, the Euro5 truck, according to Nesselhauf has already begun finding its way to the operators. “We will hand over the Euro5 truck to our customers that care about the environment,” averred Erich. Hopeful of finding a place in many markets of the world, the Euro5 truck, said Erich, is the cleanest truck on Indian roads today. Reflecting on the ability of the company to pro-actively protect the environment, the Euro5 truck, quipped Marc, will help address vehicular particulate pollution. “We don’t believe in the lack of infrastructure. India is heavily investing in solar and other means of electricity generation. Pollution here is about 400 particles as compared to Germany where it is about 150 particles. There is an opportunity for an electric product. When we come out with an electric product, it will be competitively priced,” he concluded.

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New 16-tonne bus from BharatBenz

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Daimler India Commerical Vehicles has introduced a 16-tonne bus under the BharatBenz brand.

Story and Photos by:

Anirudh Raheja

With an aim to tap the fast growing inter-city bus segment in India, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) has launched a new 16-tonne bus that measures 12 m in length. Adding to the company’s bus portfolio, which consists of a 9 m long BharatBenz bus (for school, staff and tourist application), and a multi-axle Mercedes-Benz luxury coach, the new 12 m long bus is available as a rolling chassis, and a fully-built vehicle. The fully-built vehicle complies with AIS 031 CMUR Bus Body code, which mandates roll over safety of up to 28 degrees. The 16-tonne BharatBenz bus is claimed to have a roll-over safety capability of up to 48 degrees. Featuring an ‘aluminique’ body fabricated without welds, particular attention has been paid to keep the centre of gravity low. This is said to lower the chances of the bus toppling over. Expressed Markus Villinger, Managing Director, Daimler Buses India, “Using ‘aluminique’ body has helped us to reduce weight by one-third in comparison to the weight of an all steel body. Lower weight boosts fuel economy.”

Powering the 16-tonne bus is a six-cylinder 6373 cc DE175 BSIV compliant turbo-diesel engine that is situated at the front. The drive to the rear wheels is through a G85 six-speed manual gearbox and a live axle. The bus chassis is of the ladder type, and has its front frame support brackets developed from cast metal to offer better protection to the driveline in case of a frontal impact. Producing a maximum power of 238 hp, and a maximum torque of 850 Nm, the bus is equipped with wider brake linings. “With localisation of over 90 per cent, we are looking forward to sell over 1000 buses against 500 buses sold last year,” averred Villinger. Equipped with ‘Glide’ air suspension that includes stabilisers and double-acting telescopic shock absorbers, the 16-tonne bus, for lower operating costs, offers oil drain interval of one-lakh kms for the engine and gearbox. Fitted with tilt adjustable steering system, the bus contains Daimler’s proven Bluetec technology. The SCR system on the bus includes an aqueous urea tank of 60 litres. The AC is a 32 kW unit from Spheros Motherson. Guaranting comfort with 790 mm legroom and a 2×2 seat layout, the bus, available with 43+driver and 39+driver seating configuration, is fitted with anti-skid top layer vinyl flooring and fire retardant materials. Built at DICV’s Chennai plant, having a 1500 units capacity, the 16-tonne bus has seen its maker tie up with six body builders in India. Of these, JCBL has gone ahead and built a sleeper coach on the bus platform. “As the market continues to grow, we will also offer new bus models. We will also introduce a 16-tonne rear engine bus later this year,” signed off Villenger.

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S-CCI Golden Cruiser procures BharatBenz trucks

Automotive engine anti-freeze coolant manufacturer, S-CCI Golden Cruiser, has procured four 30-tonne tankers built on a BharatBenz truck chassis. The company now has 10 tankers of 30-tonne each, and are used to perform the task of ferrying coolants as well as the base material, Mono Ethylene Glycol, which is used to manufacture coolants. Instances of contamination after hiring tankers prompted the company to build its own fleet. This would enable the company to meet the stringent requirements of the customers (OEMs) according to S K Singh, Director, S-CCI Golden Cruiser. The company is a supplier of anti-freeze coolants to OEMs like Tata Motors, Marut Suzuki, Honda and many others. A joint venture between, CCI Corporation, Japan, and an Indian entity, S-CCI Golden Cruiser has built a fleet of 18 BharatBenz tankers, three 30-tonne tankers from AMW, two tankers from Tata Motors, and a fleet of five tankers of capacities ranging from two-tonne to 20-tonne from Tata, Mahindra and Ashok Leyland, under its logistics vertical. This vertical ensures just-in-time delivery.

BharatBenz opens a dealership at Tuticorin

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Daimler India Commercial Vehicles has inaugurated a dealership at Tuticorin in the state of Tamil Nadu to cater to its brand of BharatBenz trucks and buses. The dealership will also cater to the Mercedes-Benz brand of luxury coaches DICV manufactures in India. The dealership at Tuticorin is the 12th dealership DICV has launched in the state of Tamil Nadu. It marks the fourth BharatBenz touch point in the region by Jayraraj Trucking. Illustrating rising demand for BharatBenz products in the industrial belt of Tamil Nadu, the company, it is clear from the new dealership, is pursuing quality for a better ownership experience. Apart from laying stress on fully-built trucks and efficient buses, DICV has been also laying stress on a one stop shop experience for its truck and bus buyers at dealerships. Jayaraj Trucking already has a dealership point each in Tirunelveli, Trichy and Madurai.

BharatBenz Financier Conclave stressed on easy finance.

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles Pvt. Ltd. (DICV), the wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG recently held the BharatBenz Financier Conclave in Mumbai. About 200 representatives, both from DICV’s partners and Daimler executives are known to have actively participated in the whole exercise. Aimed at improving DICV’s existing financial solutions for customers of BharatBenz truck and buses, at the conclave, Erich Nesselhauf, Managing Director and CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles emphasised on the need to offer innovative financing solutions for the company to be able to achieve substantial growth. Nesselhauf acknowledged the 25 banks and Non-banking Financing companies (NBFCs) known to have partnered DICV. Apart from these external financiers, DICV’s customers can also approach BharatBenz Financial, the independent financial services arm of the company for finance, insurance and service related needs. 

Mining deep

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

The Indian-made BharatBenz 3143 deep mining tipper is set to change the way the deep mining tipper segment will be looked upon.

From behind the wheel of the new BharatBenz 3143 deep mining tipper, the view ahead is almost uninterrupted. It is a far cry from the trucks of yesteryear where the cabin was cramped and the driving position uncomfortable. Displayed at the AAI show at Hannover last year as a ‘Made-in-India’ product along with the left-hand-drive Fuso truck, the 3143 has begun rolling out of the Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) facility at Oragadam, Tamil Nadu. A commercial launch is scheduled later this year. Impressive is the attention to design and ergonomics. The day cabin flaunts good built, presents a good service of space. The large, sweeping dashboard may look a touch bland, it does not feel like it was built to a price. The modern instrument panel has two large dials. At the centre is a digital readout which indicates the gear the vehicle is currently in. If it is in the manual mode or the auto mode or if the differential-lock is engaged, and more.

Equipped with a 12-forward, 4-reverse G330 ‘Powershift’ constant mesh Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) that is operated by means of a multi-function stalk (paddle shift) on the steering column, the 3143 deep mining tipper that I am at the helm of, is filled with 28-tonnes of cargo. Enough to make me realise that this truck, referred to as Thunderbolt internally, is rated at 31-tonnes and equipped with a 29 cu. m. rock body from Satrac. The hydraulics are from Hydromass India.

Gearshift is activated by moving the multi-function stalk vertically. Moving it laterally activates or releases the exhaust brake. Pushing the ring on the stalk gets the transmission into neutral. A button at the end of the stalk also facilitates a similar function. It marks a world of change from manual transmission. With the gears positioned such that the first gear amounts to first-low, and the second gear amounts to first-high, highlighting the G330 transmission’s splitter arrangement, a switch on the centre console and part of a three-switch bank, enables the move to manual mode. Conversely, it also facilitates a move back to auto from manual. In the auto-mode, the transmission is sensitive to the push of the accelerator pedal and brake, thus shifting up or down. One of the three-switch bank is a switch for the air-conditioner. Not far from it and closer to the steering column, is the parking brake lever. On the other side are the HVAC controls.
If the cabin of the 3143 deep mining tipper reflects the amount of comfort an European driver has come to expect (most trucks in Europe are fitted with air-suspension), it is the quality perception that is carried over to the outside.

Subjected to extremely strenuous conditions and expected to operate for 22 hours in two shifts everyday, with the sole break for refilling fuel, deep mining trucks typically ferry overburden in a mine. Since three deep mining tippers come at a price of one dump truck, they are a preferred lot. Capable of ferrying 48-tonnes in-line with the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) regulations, and 31-tonnes according to CMVR rules, overloading of deep mining tippers is always a possibility. The need therefore is to withstand such conditions. Replacing Mercedes-Benz Actros, and with 90 localisation at the chassis level (powertrain is sourced from Germany), the 3143, according to Erich Nesselhauf, CEO, DICV, will be a game changer with its low acquisition cost and strong technological prowess.

To facilitate the nature of its application, the cabin of 3143 is situated 180 mm higher. Riding on 24-inch diameter wheels and off-road tyres the truck looks intimidating. A ‘Make-in-India’ ambassador according to Nesselhauf, it looks slightly different from the one that was displayed at the 2014 IAA show at Hannover, Germany. The 3143 thus has been treated to a facelift. The grille, in matt black is now more pronounced and wider. The BharatBenz logo is at the centre. It does not take long to find out that the cabin of the 3143 has been inspired by that of the Axor C. Contributing to an impression where even when standing still, the 3143 looks brutish, a dandy looking bumper includes the head lights (with daytime LEDs in them). At the bottom of the bumper is a scrub plate.

Walk over, and thick wheel arches painted in the same shade of grey as the bumper draw attention. Just aft of the cabin, and ahead of the superstructure is the hydraulics hardware. Structured on a chassis that is made from high-strength E500TM material, the 3143 deep mining tipper, ironically is easy to drive. There is no clutch pedal to deal with. All it takes is to step on the accelerator. In auto, it does not take long for the transmission to shift into 4th gear. Speedo needle shows 25 kmph. With speeds in mines for such trucks topping out at 40 kmph, the 3143, employing a 400 series engine in comparison to the 500 series engine found in the Actros, produces less power but more torque than that of the Actros’ engine. A mere touch of the brake pedal retards the machine, and leads to the transmission downshifting itself.

If a torture track leads to considerable axle articulation, which is easily accomplished, the 3143 was subjected to many ‘torture’ tests in Indian mines and at Daimler’s testing facility in Germany to ensure that a robust, reliable and efficient solution was arrived at. Development on the product started two years ago, and as part of a strategy to offer a highly diverse range. Also meant for export under the BharatBenz and Fuso brand, the 3143 gives the impression of being refined. Not much noise is filters in. Outside, I am sure, it is noisy owing to the viscous clutch fan, which creates quite a din. Powered by a 430 hp, 12-litre OM457 six-cylinder motor, this 8×4 truck, with a wheelbase of 4380 mm, has two front steered axles. The rear bogie arrangement contains Meritor axles with hub reduction.