Daimler unveils Bharat Benz; to invest Rs 4,400 cr in 5 yrs

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Chennai, Feb 17 (PTI): Aiming to be a strong player in thedomestic commercial vehicle industry, the world''s largesttruck maker Daimler today unveiled "Bharat Benz" in the Indianmarket and said it would invest Rs 4,400 crore in the nextfive years to ramp up capacity to 36,000 units.

The brand would offer Indian customers an entire range oftrucks from six to 49 tonne across various applications fromnext year.

Stating that this is the fifth brand for the Germanautomaker, Daimler Trucks and Buses Head- Andreas Renschlersaid,"we are launching a brand for the middle market segmentthat plays to win. This segment is expected to grow as much as80 per cent of the Indian truck market till 2020. That will bea game changer".

"We aim for a localisation rate of over 80 per cent inmaterials we use. And of course, Daimler India relies mainlyon local talent. We want to sell trucks that are made inIndia, for India, by our excellent team from India..", hesaid after unveiling the brand at a glittering ceremony intheir manufacturing facility at Oragadam near here

The company would invest Rs 4,400 crore over five yeas tomanufacture trucks with an initial capacity of 36,000 units.

Asked if they would tie-up with a local partner to maketrucks, he said the company was "mature" enough to go it onits own. "We are mature enough today, and we do not need tohave a local partner", he reiterated.

In 2008, Daimler had planned to set up the Chennai plantwith the Hero Group through a Joint Venture, but it did notmaterialise as the latter pulled out.

To a query on pricing of the products that are expectedto be rolled out by the fourth quarter of 2012, Daimler IndiaManaging Director and CEO Marc Llistosella told reporters thepricing would be "surprisingly" competitive.

"It will be surprisingly competitive.All the products willbe locally made and the pricing wil be competitive compared toother domestic commercial vehicle players", he said.

He said the choice of Bharat (on their brand) reinforcestheir commitment to serve the local market.

Referring to the logo, which has two circles with the name"BharatBenz" in the middle, Daimler AG Board of ManagementChairman and Head Mercedes Benz cars, Dr Dieter Zetsche saidthey would promote BharatBenz as a local brand.

"We have 10 brands across various markets and to India,this is a very important brand.. The foundation is being laidtoday", he said. "It is a perfect time and the perfect placeto launch a new truck brand", he said.

He said the company would also double the number of itsResearch and Development experts at their Bangalore unit inthe next two years as trucks manufactured from the facilitywould have a "Daimler DNA" and an "Indian Engineering".

According to him, the India commercial vehicle market wasexpected to grow by 80 per cent till 2020.

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