The market for commercial vehicles in India is set to see new action as Daimler, the world’s biggest truck maker by sales, unveiled an all-new brand “BharatBenz” as it invest Rs 4,400 crore for a factory near Chennai. Daimler joins other global biggies like Sweden’s Volvo, Germany’s Man and America’s Navistar, all of whom have already set foot in the Indian market. “We would have liked to come to the country earlier but there was a slowdown,” Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche said here after unveiling the company’s India branding, its fifth truck brand globally. “We are very clear that we want to take a leadership position in India. We have chosen a very promising product for this market.” Daimler had initially joined hands with the Munjals of the Hero group for its India entry and they had originally formed a joint venture in 2008. But this fell apart in April 2009 as Hero pulled out. Daimler had then purchased Hero Group’s 40% stake in the joint venture and said it will go ahead with the project independently. Zetsche said the company does not intend to have a new equity partnership with any Indian company for its commercial vehicle business, though it may partner Tata Motors for components. The Stuttgart-based auto maker—which has been assembling its Mercedes-Benz Actros brand of heavy-duty trucks as well as buses at a factory near Pune since November 2007—will offer trucks from six to 49 tonnes under the BharatBenz brand. These would be produced at the Oragadam factory and the first model will be introduced in June 2012. The plant will have an initial production capacity of 36,000 vehicles a year. Stating that India has become the world’s second-largest market for medium and heavy duty trucks, Andreas Renschler, head of Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses, said the company expects the local truck market to double by 2020. “We will play a significant role in this leap,” Renschler said. Truck and bus sales grew 45% to 652,692 vehicles in 2010, according to Siam. Daimler has a growing car business in India through its passenger vehicle unit, Mercedes Benz India, which also assembles C-Class, E-Class and S-Class luxury sedans. The company currently sells trucks under the Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Western Star and Fuso brands worldwide. But while it has entered the market alone, other international players have forged alliances with local companies. Volvo has partnered the Eicher group while Man is coming with Force Motors of the Firodias. Navistar has partnered another local heavyweight, Mahindra and Mahindra.

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