Daimler launches light duty trucks in India

N. Madhavan        Last Updated: February 20, 2013  | 16:13 IST

N Madhavan
On Wednesday, Daimler AG, the world's largest truck maker and the latest entrant into the highly competitive Indian commercial market, broad-based its product portfolio by launching three light duty vehicles.

The products - one nine tonner and two 12 tonners - will join three other heavy duty trucks the company launched last year.

These launches come at a time when the country's commercial vehicle sector is witnessing a significant slowdown, forcing existing players such as Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland to scale down production.

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Speaking on the occasion, Marc Llistosella, MD & CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles Ltd, acknowledged the slowdown but added that the company was not scared of it.

"We are not happy with the state of the market. We see a drop of 30 to 40 per cent in volumes. Today the industry numbers are at 2009/10 levels," he said.

The company, which began selling trucks last year, has so far sold 1,200 units through 32 dealers.

"As we ramp up our production at our plant in Oragadam near Chennai, the challenge we face is not one of demand but that of meeting demand. We are sold out. There is no stock either at the plant or with the dealers," he added.

The adverse market conditions have considerably widened the price gap between Daimler's products, which are sold in India under the brand name Bharat Benz, and the competition. Rivals have resorted to massive discounts to push volumes in a sluggish market.

"We have not sold a single truck at a discount. The buyers have seen value in buying the product. They have started looking not just at the sale price but the total cost of ownership," said Llistosella.

By the end of the year, the company plans to have 12 models and more than 80 dealers.

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