German automaker Daimler is looking at launching 19 trucks in India by the first quarter of 2014, in an effort to make a mark in the world’s third-largest market for such products.
The world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer will start rolling out the products, in the range of six to 49 tonnes, under the BharatBenz brand from the third quarter of 2012.
“In some North Indian states, a commercial vehicle manufacturer has over 95 per cent market share. This is an unhealthy trend and shows the consumers do not have any choice. The Indian market will now graduate to better products and we will offer them a choice. We will be able to make a mark in the industry in three to five years,” said Marc Llistosella, managing director of Daimler India Commercial Vehicles Ltd (DICV). To keep prices competitive, DICV has initiated a localisation drive to bring down costs. “Our products have localisation content of 85 per cent, which we plan to increase to over 90 per cent in the coming months. This has been possible because we have developed a base of 400-450 suppliers,” said Llistosella.
Apart from consolidating its position in India, DICV has also firmed up plans to commence exports by the end of the year. It declined to share specifics of its export strategy, but hinted it was looking at selling trucks in West Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa. DICV has decided to set up an exclusive pan-India distribution network for marketing BharatBenz products. It had finalised 70 locations for establishing these sales points, Llistosella said. “Along with a strong dealership and service network, we will also offer financing solutions to our customers. We have tied up with ICICI and HDFC for the same,” Llistosella said.
In February, DICV unveiled the BharatBenz brand, especially designed for India. It has set up a 400-acre production plant at Oragadam near Chennai and is investing Rs 4,400 crore.
The plant would start with an initial capacity of 36,000 units. It is likely to be expanded to produce 72,000 units a year, starting from 2013, which could entail an additional investment of Rs 350 crore in manufacturing, R&D, marketing and sales, and setting up dealership network.