German automobile major Daimler will start rolling out trucks from its Oragadam plant near here from September. It has committed an investment of Rs.4,400 crore in this facility.

Announcing that the plant has become operational from Wednesday, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles Pvt. Ltd. Managing Director Marc Llistosella said the plan was to start commercial production of 25-tonne trucks and then move into 31-tonne. Seventeen models of Bharat Benz trucks were to be launched in 18 months from September, he said.

In a move to make the 400-acre Oragadam facility as its India hub for truck manufacturing, Daimler has decided to shift the production of the Actros range heavy vehicles from Pune. The Actros range trucks are specialised and used in the mining segment. The process had begun and is expected to be completed by August-September, he said.

Mr. Llistosella was addressing presspersons after the inauguration of the plant by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

At the function, he said the company planned to start exports from Oragadam from 2013. Daimler was targeting 90 per cent localisation of the truck value from India by 2015 and of this 50 per cent would be from Tamil Nadu.

To a query on exports, Andreas Renschler, Head of Daimler Trucks and Buses, and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, said the first priority was catering to the domestic market. The company may look at exports to Africa, the Far East and the Middle East later.

A press release, issued on the occasion, said that the annual production capability of the plant is 36,000 units, which could be scaled up to 72,000 units.

Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dieter Zetsche said India was more than an emerging market. A growing economy like India meant growing mobility. The Oragadam plant — one of the three Daimler plants worldwide to combine truck and engine production — employed 1,400 people and the number, according to him, would increase.