Mercedes Benz may set up plant in Pune

Germany-based Mercedes Benz is planning to set up a plant to manufacture engines and gearbox in India.With the company’s new facility coming up at Chakan near the city, sources believe there are chances the new manufacturing unit can be set up in Pune region. “The company might explore the possibility of exploring other regions if things do not work in Maharashtra,” said Harald Landman, head of Daimler bus division.“We are yet to freeze on a plan and operations that will happen at the new manufacturing plant in India. The lowcost of operations has made us to think over the idea of setting up an engine and gearbox manufacturing plant near Pune,” he added. Mercedes Benz will launch its hybrid fuel cell buses worldwide by 2010. “Fuel availability is an issue in India. We have the technology to upgrade our vehicles, but the cost of fuel and government regulations makes it difficult in India,” Landman said.Mercedes Benz bus will have to compete with its Swiss rival in luxury buses, Volvo, which already has a major hold in the Indian market, selling 350 buses last year. It will initially sell the luxury buses through its three existing dealers in Bengaluru, Pune and Mumbai and will extend the network to other parts of the country. Currently, Mercedes Benz enjoys 17 per cent market share in the worldwide luxury bus market, compared to 5 per cent of Volvo. Daljit Singh, chairman and MD of Sutlej Motors said, “This is the biggest milestone in the history of our company.We have invested Rs 150 crore in the plant that can manufacture 80 coaches a month. Also, Pune is a very interesting market for us; we can come here in a few years.” The partnership involves development, production, marketing, sales of luxury rear-engine coaches.

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