INDIA: Only 18 months after launching truck brand BharatBenz, Daimler is expanding its commercial vehicle business in India with a bus building plant. Representatives of Daimler AG, Daimler Buses and Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) laid the foundation stone for the factory at an event attended by staff members, dealers, suppliers and journalists in Chennai. The plant will be built within the existing premises of DICV and will be completed in the second quarter of 2015.
“On the basis of our strong truck business, we are now pressing ahead on the Indian bus market. For that purpose, we are consistently using existing suppliers, our production site and our sales network in India,” said Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler AG director.
Daimler is investing roughly €50m in the bus plant. Spread across an area of 113,000 square meters, it will be constructed within the existing premises of DICV. The plant will have an installed capacity of 1,500 vehicles per year in the initial phase, and can be expanded to 4,000 units subsequently.
The product range will cover front-engine buses under the BharatBenz brand, adapted to the specific needs of the Indian bus volume segment. The models will receive a body specifically developed by the Ulster bodybuilder Wrightbus. The state-of-the-art bus body building facility will be part of the new DICV bus plant. In addition, the existing rear-engine chassis dedicated to the premium segment will be nationalised under the Mercedes-Benz brand.
In both front and rear engine configurations, the new Indian buses will be available with a gross vehicle weight of nine, 16, and above 16 tonnes. Relying on and further expanding its proven dealership and service network, the wholly-owned Daimler subsidiary DICV will be in charge of sales. Indian customers can also rely on one-stop maintenance, repairs, and after-sales solutions.
“Our two-fold strategy with BharatBenz and Mercedes- Benz buses allows us to cater to the different needs of Indian customers in a perfect way. In terms of safety, fuel efficiency, quality, and comfort, both brands will set new standards in the Indian bus sector,” says Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Buses, about the product concept.
Marc Llistosella, Managing Director and CEO of DICV, added: “Thanks to our highly motivated staff, we succeeded in launching our truck business exactly as planned. Therefore, I am confident we will manage to replicate this success on the bus market.”
After China, India is home to the world’s second largest bus market. Despite a difficult market environment, sales amounted to almost 40,000 buses last year, almost twice the volume of the Western European bus market. In view of India’s projected population growth, experts see a further increasing demand for mobility. A look at China equally underlines India’s huge potential. India is the second-most populous country in the world after China, where more than 100,000 buses are sold each year.