Daimler Commercial Vehicles India is getting into fully-built bus business and plans to start exporting 9-tonne Mercedes-Benz school buses to the Middle East by the end of this year.
The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, also plans to expand its product portfolio in the domestic market by bringing in a 16-tonne bus chassis next year.
It also plans to get into the business of selling buses to state governments and departments next year.
“The 9-tonnes Mercedes-Benz branded school bus is meant to be sold in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and this is our start of fully-built bus business from India,” Head of Daimler Buses India, Markus Villinger told reporters on the sidelines of IAA Commercial Vehicles show here.
The company will start displaying the buses in the Middle East in November-December this year, he added.
The school bus will be sold under Mercedes-Benz brand in the Middle East. They are sold as BharatBenz brand in India.
DICV currently exports buses in chassis form (9-tonne) to South East Asia, Africa and Latin America.
When asked if the company is looking at new markets, Villinger said: “In these regions (Africa, Latin America and South East Asia) we will look for new countries.”
Commenting on the expansion of bus business in India, Villinger said: “Right now, we have 9-tonne front engine chassis and beginning of next year we will start with 16-tonne front end chassis.”
DICV currently sells the 9-tonne bus chassis under BharatBenz brand and fully built 24-tonne bus with the Mercedes-Benz tag in India.
Not disclosing the sales figure for buses, Villinger said: “First learning is that you have to fully adapt to Indian conditions, get rid of perceptions.”
On market share he said: “We have not planned for any market share target but yes, we want to increase it going ahead”.
“We have established competition in India. We have to see that the product which we give has an additional value and we are better in terms of safety ergonomics and quality in terms of competition,” Villinger said.
When asked if the company plans to introduce buses with alternative technology, Villinger said: “Daimler has the technology, we just need to select. But here, we are not supported by the government enough.”
Speaking on the business with state governments, Villinger said: “Next year, we are getting into business with state government undertakings and state governments. We will give fully built buses to the government.”
DICV currently has a production capacity to roll out 24,000 buses from Oragadam plant near Chennai every year.
The company has made an initial investment of Rs 4,400 crore for truck manufacturing and an additional Rs 425 crore for the over 400-acre bus plant near Chennai.