Management changes at DICV

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) has announced senior management changes concerning its bus business. Thomas Fricke, Head of International Planning and Production Strategy at Daimler Buses, Germany, has succeeded Markus Villinger, as the Daimler Buses India head. Markus has moved to Daimler Trucks Asia to lead a key project for the industrialisation of Daimler commercial vehicles in South East Asia. Rajaram Krishnamurthy, Head of Daimler Commercial Vehicles Regional Center, has succeeded Sominder Singh as the marketing head at DICV. Sominder has left the company to pursue his career outside of the Daimler Group. In supply chain management, Benjamin Eule has moved on within Daimler Trucks Asia, Japan, and is now heading Fuso brand’s network and marketing activities. His place has been taken by Ralf Mungenast, previously head of supply chain planning at Mercedes-Benz Cars, Germany.

DICV crosses the 10,000 truck milestone in exports

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Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) is celebrating an important milestone in its export business. In less than four years after it began exporting, the 10,000th export vehicle rolled onto a ship at Kamarajar Port, near Chennai. The milestone vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz 40-tonne heavy- duty tractor was for a customer in Indonesia. It is part of a batch of about 250 trucks, on the way to various South East Asia markets. According to Marc Llistosella, President and CEO of MFTBC and Head of Daimler Trucks Asia, the milestone of attaining 10,000 trucks in exports is only a beginning for the company. DICV is additionally leveraging the potential in growth markets with reliable, efficient high-quality trucks built at its India manufacturing plant. “There will be continuous significant growth in this business for our FUSO and Mercedes-Benz brands, ” averred Llistosella. DICV’s export product range, manufactured on the same production lines as its domestic BharatBenz portfolio, features the medium-duty range (9-16 tonne) and heavy-duty range (16-49 tonne) of trucks. The target markets in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America are being looked upon as significant growth opportunities for DICV. Expressed Erich Nesselhauf, Managing Director and CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles that the exports business was developing extremely well. “Since the launch in 2013, we have doubled our figures each year, and we aim for further significant growth as we will expand to serve more than 40 markets on three continents by the end of the year, ” averred Nesselhauf.  Over and above the completely built trucks, DICV has also exported more than 1,000 bus chassis, produced at its bus plant, and is currently ramping up volumes of its Mercedes-Benz school bus, launched in the Middle East. The company has also been supplying FUSO truck CKD kits to Kenya for local assembly, by a FUSO partner in Kenya, since March 2016, and to Daimler Truck’s production plant in East London and South Africa. In case of the latter, the local assembly operations only recently commenced in May 2017.

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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DICV: Meeting BSIV with SCR

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Daimler India Commercial Vehicles has developed SCR technology for its CVs to comply with the BSIV emission regulations, sans a price hike.

Story & Photos by:

Ashish Bhatia

The words ‘Profit Technology’ are doing the rounds at Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV). They concern the move up to BSIV commercial vehicles – trucks, which the company unveiled recently at Chennai. Also termed as HDTs, the trucks claim to deliver best-in-class productivity, efficiency and safety. Promising low cost of ownership, what the BSIV BharatBenz HDTs best offer perhaps is the lack of price differential between them and their BSIII breathrens. There’s been no price increase with the move to BSIV. Expected to provide DICV a solid advantage, the BSIV HDTs hint at a technological leap that reflects upon Daimler’s long standing experience in building trucks the world over, and the frugal engineering abilities that India has come to be known for. Flaunting a local content of upto 85 per cent, and supported by over 400 suppliers, the BSIV BharatBenz HDTs point at a distinct ‘value proposition’. Announced Erich Nesselhauf, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, that the company planned much before the BSIV mandate was enforced. Left with 200 BSIII CVs, the company is confident of gaining an edge.

SCR for BSIV compliance

Even as the 31-tonne GVW 3123 8×2 rigid haulage truck took the centre stage at Chennai, Nesselhauf drew attention to having sold more than 1000 BSIV trucks since August 2015; much before the enforcement of pan-India BSIV emission norms on April 01, 2017. Out of the range of HDTs, from 16- to 49-tonne, the 3123 flaunted a 60-litre AdBlue tank as part of its BSIV hardware. Powered by the 235 hp, 6372 cc, six-cylinder engine, the truck came fitted with a SCR exhaust gas after-treatment. The SCR has NOx sensors at the core of it apart from the AdBlue injector nozzle. The system is controlled by an ECU, and the AdBlue solution – made of Urea, is sprayed into the exhaust gas stream, with the NOx sensors sensing the amount of reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions as per the prescribed BSIV emission norms. What comes out of the tail pipe is harmless nitrogen and water. The BSIV trucks that DICV is offering, are claimed to have been tried and tested internationally. They are robust according to Nesselhauf. Drawing attention to the NOx sensors, which are indicative of the higher electronic content the BSIV trucks have come to carry, Nesselhauf explained, “Harnesses, sensors, electronic bits and software were added.”

Promising significant increase in fuel-efficiency, the BSIV BharatBenz trucks were subjected to weight shaving of upto 400 kg to compensate for the weight of the BSIV hardware. Claimed to weigh as much as the BSIII CVs did, the BSIV HDTs, according to Nesselhauf, are set to transform the commercial vehicle segment.

Operational support

Other than the 3123, the BSIV BharatBenz HDTs the company is offering, include the 1617, 2528 and 4023. Their AdBlue reservoirs (as part of the SCR system) will need to be topped-up at long intervals. For this, the company has made requisite arrangements at its dealers. It has also tied up with petrol pumps. Supply of quality Adblue solution is essential. Any compromise in quality may lead to the truck going into a limp mode, affecting operational efficiency as well as performance and emissions. It is this very aspect that links the reliability and performance of BSIV trucks rather closely with that of the dealers. With considerable uptake in electronics, DICV, it is not surprising, has invested in time and resources to bring its dealer network up to speed. Averred Nesselhauf, “We urged our dealers to look at areas of gain.” DICV also undertook upon itself to educate and address the concerns of its customers, both existing as well as new. Said Nesselhauf, “With fuel saving of 10 per cent, a fleet owner stands to save 1000 litres annually on each truck that he operates for 18,00,000 kms. In terms of pure carbon savings per litre of diesel, BSIV engines result in carbon emission reduction of 2.5 kg per litre. Significant savings are also achieved in the case of NOx emissions.” He opined, “It is the inefficient engines, which are a cause of global warming among others. Special focus was laid on optimising engines while moving to BSIV.”

Face-lift

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DICV has utilised the opportunity to treat its trucks to a face-lift as part of the move upto BSIV. The trucks now feature a bold new face. The grille has got bigger and wider; there are LED DRLs built into the head lamp assembly. The bumper is body coloured on higher spec models. DICV has also added a host of new features to turn its trucks into a better value proposition. With ABS standard on BharatBenz trucks since 2012, new features like auxiliaries have found their way into the truck. Aerodynamic improvements have been carried out, and also efforts to reduce friction. In an effort to reduce driver fatigue, the trucks come with ‘cruise-control’. The head lamp design with built in LED DRLs is claimed to offer better visibility. The higher spec models come with a reverse camera. Advocating the deployment of AC in truck cabins, the BharatBenz BSIV trucks come with AC as optional. A brief drive revealed the difference in how the BSIV truck feels over the BSIII version. If an improvement in NVH is noticeable, the 2528 construction truck felt as capable and pro-efficient as its BSIII brethren. A differential lock buzzer in the cab indicated the engagement of active differential lock as the truck drove on an earthern path with hurdles. An interesting feature the BSIV BharatBenz trucks come with is the fuel-theft protection device.

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Digitisation

To go with the higher electronic content on the BSIV BharatBenz trucks, DICV is working to streamline processes. Seeking feedback from owners, operators and drivers to improve products and services, the company has devised a mobile application, ProServ. The ProServ app. enables customers to analyse vehicle data or access maintenance instructions. Sales and customer service representatives across the brand’s network have access to all relevant information as well. This equips them to provide effective consultation and support to customers. Averred Nesselhauf, “We have trained our dealers to deal with BSIV vehicles.” Apart from training, the dealer staff is supported by an online technical information platform called Ascent (After Sales Central). It is a multilingual, animated system to facilitate information access at all DICV service centres. In addition, mobile service workshops, claimed DICV sources, are equipped to reach out in case of an emergency (in four hours flat). Customers can reach out to the company network through a 24×7 helpline number.

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Future ready

With attention to the future, DICV is keen to double its market share in HDTs. Said Nesselhauf, “We are future ready.” He is of the opinion that the implementation of GST in July will eliminate inefficiencies in the transport industry. In the wake of the global headwinds and the slowing down of many markets in the world, India, it is not surprising, is assuming greater importance in the scheme of things at Daimler. A big chunk of CVs made at DICV’s Chennai plant are exported to over 14 markets under the Fuso brand. It is the DICV built HDTs that have led to a change in Fuso’s perception. Fuso is now being increasingly looked at as a heavy-duty truck brand. As a matter of fact, averred Nesselhauf, that they are confident of the new range boosting volumes. A big draw is the price, which has not increased despite the additional BSIV hardware that has been incorporated. In 2016, DICV sold 13,100 trucks as compared to 13,997 numbers in 2015. To further strengthen its position and market reach, the company could soon launch a sub-nine tonne (seven-tonne) truck for the export market. The Indian market launch is expected to happen sometime later.

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Shaving weight to compensate for BSIV hardware

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To enhance the performance and comply with BSIV emission norms, DICV, to fit an exhaust gas after-treatment (SCR), resorted to light weighting. The engineering team went through the entire truck; analysed every nut and bolt to achieve weight reduction of upto 400 kg. The team turned to value analysis. Functions of different parts were analysed. Material analysis was carried out. The exercise, expected to shave up to 300 kgs on lighter trucks, led the team to choose materials that would balance cost and weight. Material and design changes played a crucial role, and also the non-load bearing members. The grade of material was improved to facilitate a reduction in thickness, and in-turn weight. Without sacrificing performance or reliability, weight reduction was achieved through the use of superior grade material. In many application areas, the use of ‘Domex 650’ high strength steel was resorted to. This steel grade is used by many body builders to build containers in North India, and leads to substantial weight saving. The Domex cold forming steel the company is claimed to have used, is thermo-mechanically rolled. Its heating, rolling and cooling processes are carefully controlled.

To increase fuel efficiency, DICV compartmentalised the function of engine and the after-treatment system. SCR was chosen since it reduces the engine effort to meet tighter emission norms. With the chemical process limited to the after-treatment system, the SCR is often looked upon as an advanced active emissions control technology system that injects AdBlue into the exhaust gas stream while the engine is operating. Reducing (Nitrogen Oxide) NOx emission primarily, the SCR helps to achieve better fuel efficiency by putting hardly any burden on the engine. Engine performance is thus not compromised. Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) flows into the SCR system for reduction reactions to take place in an oxidising atmosphere. SCR reduces the level of NOx using ammonia as a reducing agent within a catalyst system. For the chemical reaction Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is used as a reducing agent that reacts with NOx to convert the pollutants into nitrogen, water and less amount of CO2. DEF also enables the engine to use less EGR and higher oxygen levels for better combustion. With the use of SCR, NOx can be reduced by up to 90 per cent. The system, it is clear, seeks a balance between fuel efficiency and emissions.

_ Bhargav TS

Indian CVs: The road ahead

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After a tumultuous last year, the CV industry is looking at a rare new period.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Supreme Court’s judgement to stop the sale of BSIII emission compliant vehicles on April 01, 2017, led to an unprecedented situation. CV manufacturers and dealers were left with an estimated inventory of 96,700 (and 40,048 three-wheelers) BSIII emission compliant CVs as on March 30, 2017, amounting to a sum of Rs.2500 crore approximately. With the Supreme Court order clearly stating that on and from April 01, 2017, such vehicles that are not BSIV compliant shall not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer, led CV industry stakeholders to look at quick ways of off-loading as many BSIII emission compliant CVs as they could in a short span of three-to-four days; from the time the Supreme Court gave the order and from the time BSIV emission norms came into force on April 01, 2017. The scope of the Supreme Court judgement can be had from the fact that it ordered all the vehicle-registration authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, to not register such vehicles on and from April 01, 2017, that do not meet BSIV emission standards, except on proof that such a vehicle has already been sold on or before March 31, 2017. It was no secret that BSIV emission norms will come into force from April 01, 2017. The CV industry knew it. What the CV industry did not know, claimed an industry source, was if they should discontinue manufacturing BSIII vehicles such that there will not lie a single unit with them or their dealers on April 01, 2017. He drew attention to the fact that manufacturers were entitled to manufacture BSIII emission compliant vehicles till March 31, 2017. He also drew attention to the Centre’s response on pleas filed by Bajaj Auto and Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) in the Supreme Court, that the sale and registration of BSIII vehicles can continue after March 31, 2017, and the cut-off applies to manufacturing only. During the March 24, 2017, hearing, claimed an industry source, the court had considered allowing registration of BSIII vehicles by imposing a compensatory cess. The Centre’s response is said to have been based on two earlier instances of upgrading to BSII and BSIII emission norms respectively. Then, the sale of existing stock was allowed.

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Bone of contention

Mentioning in its order that the health of the people of India is of greater importance than the losses the auto industry would suffer (sic), the Supreme Court was not impressed by the argument that manufacturers be allowed to sale BSIII vehicles even after the BSIV regulation was implemented.

Claimed an industry source that the ministry of transport issued a notification on August 19, 2015, to switch to BSIV emission compliant vehicles on April 01, 2017. It did not however clarify whether production of BSIII vehicles would have to be stopped, or also their sale. Interestingly, the Supreme Court did not fail to observe the fact that an expenditure of Rs.30,000 crore was incurred by refineries to produce BSIV grade of fuel. The Court in its order stated that manufacturers failed to take pro-active steps despite being aware of the timelines. Much confusion prevailed until the Supreme Court issued an order on March 28, 2017, to stop the sale of BSIII vehicles on March 31, 2017.

Dealing with the impact

Left with no choice, CV industry stakeholders came up with the prospect of fire-sale. With the Court order coming out three-to-four days before April 01, 2017, the auto industry, and not just the CV industry saw fire-sale as a promising prospect, which is not surprising. Many two wheeler manufacturers too resorted to fire-sale of their BSIII vehicles as well.

Expressed Vinod K. Dasari, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ashok Leyland, and President, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), that they are looking at exporting the leftover (BSIII vehicles) inventory to emerging markets, currently complying with BSIII norms. Claimed an industry source that those (vehicles) that are left behind will be dismantled. Some of the aggregates could be rescued. Alternatively, the vehicles could be upgraded to BSIV if possible. A statement issued by Mahindra & Mahindra announced that the Group is ramping up BSIV vehicle production. The OEM, the statement read, is also exploring options within the framework to minimise the impact. The brisk discount sales and incentives CV makers offered to off-load BSIII vehicles in the three-to-four days costed them in the region of Rs.2500 crore, claimed an industry source. According to a report by research firm Crisil, companies sold a little over half of their BSIII inventory by March 31, and have lost Rs 1,200 crore on discounts and incentives. They are expected to lose another Rs.1,300 crore to dispose off the unsold inventory.

Mentioned a Tata Motors source that the ban would have a material impact on all the CV industry stakeholders. They are, he mentioned, assessing unsold inventory that lies with the company and the dealerships. According to the Tata Motors spokesperson, the decision to ban the sale of BSIII vehicles was unprecedented and unexpected. Erich Nesselhauf, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), expressed that they planned a year in advance to meet the BSIV deadline. The company, he added, has sold its 1000th BSIV truck in the state of Kerala recently. Kerala migrated to BSIV emission norms in November 2016, much before the pan-India BSIV regulation came into force last month. Despite prior planning, DICV has come to have an unsold inventory of 200 BSIII CVs, said Nesselhauf on the sidelines of the launch of BSIV BharatBenz HDTs at Chennai. DICV had its CVs shed 400 kgs to accommodate BSIV apparatus. The company has adapted SCR technology to meet BSIV emission norms unlike Ashok Leyland, which has adapted intelligent EGR technology to meet BSIV emission norms. DICV is supplying AdBlue solution to its dealers (and to petrol pumps) to ensure quality and reliability. The price of BharatBenz BSIV CVs is the same as the price of the

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BSIII CVs.

Dealer impact

The impact on CV dealerships was considerable. Dealers came under immense pressure to off-load BSIII CVs. If slow moving inventory made for a higher impact, dealers panicked at least in the beginning. Averred Piyush Jain of A V Motors, a SML Isuzu dealer, that the ruling is hard hitting, and has rendered dealers helpless. Jain compared the development with that of demonetisation. Demonetisation too hit us hard in the third quarter of FY2016-17, he said. “A strong (and clear) judgment should have been passed about discontinuing the manufacture of BSIII vehicles in 2016 itself,” opined Jain. “Had such a ruling been passed in 2016, it would have not resulted in the quantum of losses that we are staring at today,” he added.

Jain also touched upon the fear of electronics among CV buyers and operators. “The customer here is far from being accustomed with the high level of sophistication (electronic engine) BSIV emission regulation will call for,” said Piyush. He informed that he had an inventory of 20 BSIII vehicles. Apprehensive of the volumes in the first quarter of FY2017-18, Tej Ghatge of Chetan Motors, a Tata SCV dealer from Kolhapur said that he held an inventory of 55 vehicles as on March 31, 2017. Of these, he managed to fire-sale 20 vehicles. Huge discounts were offered. Discounts of Rs.50,000 on a Tata Ace was offered. Vimal Gujral of Cargo Motors, a Gandhidham-based Tata CV dealer, expressed that the development was shocking. He held an inventory of 500 vehicles as on March 31, 2017. If his regional centres would be accounted for, the count would go up to 700 vehicles. Not a happy prospect for certain, opined Gujral. With unsold inventory accounting mainly for Small Commercial Vehicles (SCVs) and pick-up trucks, Gujral revealed that they have hiked the discounts considerably.

Stating that the higher price differential between BSIII and BSIV emission compliant CVs is yet to result in a clear picture as far as the demand in CV industry goes, Gurjral said, “We are yet to witness demand for BSIV CVs.” Mentioned a prominent CV dealer, that they have been advised by their principal to register (BSIII) vehicles in their name. “There is a limit to the number of vehicles we can register in our name,” he said. Suresh Jain of Veerprabhu Marketing, a CV dealer from Jodhpur, expressed that inventory levels are usually higher at the end of the financial year. This is done to realise depreciation benefits by billing the inventory over the financial year end. With customers expecting unrealistic discounts, and at times below the cost of goods sold, it is not a happy prospect since the dealer has already been billed for local transportation, local taxation and sales tax among other charges, averred Jain. Jain’s dealership held an inventory of 200 vehicles as on March 31, 2017.

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As a desperate measure CV dealers are known to give an extended credit of up to 30 days to some of their large fleet operator clients to off-load BSIII inventory. Said a dealer on the condition of anonymity, that the impact of Supreme Court’s order and the slow demand for BSIV CVs will reflect in the sales statistics for the first quarter of FY2017-18. The CV industry, he averred, will perform worst than when it was impacted by demonetisation.

Expert analysis

With the Crisil report pegging the CV industry loss at Rs.2,500 crore, the total impact of the Supreme Court order is claimed to be 2.5 per cent of the annual revenues of listed CV manufacturers. According to the Crisil report, an expense of another Rs.1,300 crore will be incurred to dispose off unsold inventory of BSIII CVs. The effect of this development, claimed an industry source, will be spread across FY2017-18. The discounts offered during the fire-sale of BSIII vehicles is also expected to negatively impact EBITDA margins by 100 bps (one per cent) in FY2017-18. Expressed Rakesh Batra, Partner and automotive sector leader at Ernst and Young Services, that it is necessary to consider that the CV industry works globally on 20 to 30 days of inventory. This is within the distribution channel, and should have been accounted for as part of the plan to transition from BSIII to BSIV emission norms. An ICRA report pegged unsold inventory of BSIII CVs to between Rs.4600 and Rs.5800 crore approximately. Despite being caught off-guard by the SC ruling, SIAM’s latest report states the overall commercial vehicle segment to have registered a 4.16 per cent growth in FY2016-17. Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCVs) grew by 0.04 per cent over the same period last year. Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) witnessed a 7.41 per cent growth while CV exports registered a 4.99 per cent growth.

Looking for clarity

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The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a meeting, claimed an industry source. The letter, he mentioned, speaks about the auto industry wanting to thrive in an environment where there is policy clarity and certainty. Especially, due to the long gestation period involved. Claimed a source on the condition of anonymity that the recent Supreme Court ruling contradicts the 2015 notification by the transport ministry. He mentioned that this has been mentioned by SIAM in the letter it wrote to the Prime Minister. The  fact is, the die has been cast. BSIII CVs are history. The road ahead lies on the frame work of tightening regulations starting with BSIV. With the crash regulations said to come into force from next fiscal, the road ahead for the Indian CV industry is going to be as challenging as it has been for sometime now. With GST round the corner, the CV industry, it is looking like, is already anticipating big changes. In 2020, the bridge to BSVI emission norms will have to be crossed too.

DICV signs MoU with Karnataka Bank

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Karnataka Bank to provide customised financial packages to its customers. BharatBenz customers will get access to Karnataka Bank’s 740 branches across India to avail of their finance needs to buy BharatBenz CVs. Aiding BharatBenz’s growing presence in India according to Erich Nesselhauf, Managing Director and CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, the arrangement will enable Karnataka Bank to reach out to more number of CV customers. DICV, in India, sells a wide range of BharatBenz trucks and buses ranging from 9-tonne to 49-tonne. The company also offers light, medium and heavy-duty buses in India. The heavy-duty bus is marketed under the name of Mercedes-Benz

Charging ahead

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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.

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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.

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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.