Daimler opens new bus plant in Chennai
Less than three years after the market launch of the BharatBenz brand, Daimler’s commercial vehicles division in India is already heralding its next phase of growth. Today, Daimler Trucks and Buses is opening a new bus plant at its Chennai production facility in the south east of the country. The company also revealed its new buses and a heavy-duty truck to customers, business partners and representatives of the media.
“We have become firmly established in the Indian market with our BharatBenz brand, despite only operating in the market since 2012″ stressed Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, member of the Daimler AG Board of Management responsible for Trucks and Buses. Sales of BharatBenz trucks in India rose 63 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015 alone. A total of well over 20,000 of the brand’s trucks are now on India’s roads.
“We continue to strengthen our presence in the Indian commercial vehicle market with new products, now also including buses. In doing so, we are opening a new chapter of growth,” Dr Bernhard added. “This investment represents the ongoing pursuit of our strategy of targeted expansion for our global market presence.”
“We see enormous potential for growth in the Indian market. We expect the volume of the Indian market for buses weighing over eight tons to more than double by the year 2020,” specified Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Buses. “Our two-brand strategy allows us to offer our customers in the region the right products and services for them.”
The front-engine buses of the BharatBenz brand meet the requirements of the Indian volume market in the school, staff, and tourist segments. The British manufacturer Wrightbus mounts extremely light aluminum bodies onto the vehicles directly on Daimler’s plant premises.
In the future, Daimler will produce rear-engine buses under the Mercedes-Benz brand in Chennai for the premium segment. These will mainly be used for longer coach trips.
Both the front and rear-engine buses will be available with a gross vehicle weight rating of nine and more than sixteen tons when they go on sale in the fall of 2015. Buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of sixteen tons will be available from next year. Sales activities are carried out via the wholly owned Daimler subsidiary Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), for which it uses and is constantly expanding its established network of dealers and service providers. Customers in India can also rely on support from a single source when it comes to repairs, maintenance and after-sales.
Daimler is investing about EUR 50 million in the expansion of the bus business. The bus plant, which covers a total area of roughly 113,000 square meters, is initially set up for a capacity of 1,500 vehicles a year. This can be expanded up to a maximum of 4,000 units. Once production has been ramped up, Daimler Buses will employ about 300 people in India.
Once the new bus plant has been inaugurated, the plant in Chennai will be the first Daimler Trucks plant in the world to produce trucks, buses and engines for a total of three different brands: BharatBenz, FUSO and Mercedes-Benz.