Daimler India launches new Chennai plant for making buses
07 Mar 2014
Truck-maker Daimler India Commercial Vehicles will start manufacturing buses from its facility near Chennai by the second quarter of 2015, the company said on Thursday after laying the foundation stone for the Rs425-crore (€50 million) factory.
The new plant is adjacent to its existing truck-manufacturing unit at Oragadam, an industrial suburb of Chennai. Daimler India, a subsidiary of Daimler of Germany which also owns the Mercedes Benz brand, is consolidating its entire truck and bus manufacturing operations in India with this plant.
The factory, with a capacity of about 1,500 buses a year, will make Mercedes Benz rear-engine luxury buses and Bharat Benz front engine buses for the 'volume market' catering to intra-city transport, school and staff buses.
The company has also entered into a supplier arrangement with Wrightbus of Northern Ireland to build the bus body for the Bharat Benz range.
Addressing the foundation stone-laying ceremony, Marc Llisotella, managing director and chief executive officer of Daimler India, said the company launched Bharat Benz, a new brand of trucks in April 2012 and has over 14 variants in the market.
The company hopes to replicate its success in trucks with the bus brand.
Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler AG board member in charge of trucks and buses, said the 28-acre facility at the truck factory complex will make 9 tonne-16 tonne and heavier multi-axle buses. Daimler India will also export the buses and chasses to Africa and South-East Asia, beginning with Indonesia.
The company will use the Bharat Benz dealership network to market the buses in India.
Hartmut Schick, head, Daimler Buses and chief executive, EvoBus GmbH, said Daimler India will supply the Bharat Benz chassis to Wrightbus to build the complete bus. The international bus body building company has the flexibility and speed for this operation, he said.
Mercedes Benz chasses will be built at the new factory and the engines imported from Brazil. Daimler will build the high-end Mercedes-Benz buses itself.
India and China are key markets for Daimler. With an annual demand of about 40,000 buses, India's market is half that of China. But with a population matching China, the growth potential is huge, Schick said.