The Indian commercial vehicle (CV) segment will now see increased competition with the latest entrant, Germany’s CV major, Daimler AG launching three trucks in India through its 100 per cent owned subsidiary Daimler India Commercial Vehicles Pvt. Ltd (DICV) under its brand, BharatBenz.

Three heavy-duty BharatBenz trucks in 25 tonne and 31 tonne category – 2323R and 3123R for the haulage segment and 2523C for the construction segment – all based on the Axor platform were launched here on Wednesday. The 2523 range is priced between Rs 15.7 lakh and 17.2 lakh, and 3123 is from Rs 18.7 lakh to Rs 20.2 lakh.

Addressing a press conference, Marc Llistosella, CEO & MD, DICV said, “we will be launching 17 products in the 7-49 tonne range covering six segments including 7 tonne, 9 tonne, 12 tonne among the light-duty vehicles and the 25 tonne, 31 tonne and 49 tonne in the heavy-duty range. This will happen in the next 17 months and will expand from six to 8 segments later.”

Chennai facility

DICV had invested Rs 4,400 crore at its facility near Chennai for an annual capacity of 36,000 units. “The plant is not low cost but is of global standards. We will reach full capacity in a couple of years time and in the long term we will have to ramp up capacity,” said Mr. Llistosella, adding, “we are looking at exports but first we have to meet domestic demand.”

The DICV chief said the current localisation was 85 per cent, with 90 per cent levels expected by end-2013. It also plans to start production of light trucks from October 3.

DICV at present employs over 2000 people of which only 30 are non-Indians.

V.R.V.Prasad, VP, Marketing, Sales & After-sales, DICV, said, “the trucks will be available through a 28 strong country-wide dealer network. These will cover 89 per cent of the market with 108 locations operational by 2013.”

Since more than 90 per cent of all trucks sold in India are financed, DICV has set up Daimler Financial Services which would capture the financial services under the brand BharatBenz Financial. “We have tied up with HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Sundaram Finance and Kotak Mahindra Bank to offer financing solutions for customers. We are in talks with several other financial institutions,” said Mr. Prasad.