Mercedes-Benz India plans to aggressively grow its commercial vehicle business in the country over the next five years introducing several new products including long-haul trucks, city buses and triple-axle inter-city coaches.
Managing director Wilfried Aulbur said that currently commercial vehicles account for 15% of Mercedes’ business in India. The intention is to grow this closer to the company’s international average of 40%.
He added that once the company’s Chennai truck plant goes on-stream in 2012, it will have both capacity and capability to take on the volume market with products that are more competitively priced due to higher degree of localisation.
Although Aulbur did not commit numbers, analysts said that a double digit growth target had been set by Mercedes for both commercial and passenger vehicles. The company faces competition from BMW in the luxury car segment while Volvo and Scania are its primary competitors in the premium truck market.
Aulbur added: “Infrastructure impetus will grow the business big time. Many concepts that don’t seem feasible now will become a reality soon. Once the Chennai plant is operational, we will also be able to cater to larger volume segments and achieve significant penetration.”
Mercedes-Benz and Hero Group are setting up US$1bn light and medium-duty truck facility on a 400 acre plot near Chennai. At present, Actros trucks are manufactured at the Pune plant, where the company also assembles Mercedes-Benz sedans. The new plant was set to be commissioned in 2010 but has been pushed back till 2012 following the global recession.