Pune: DaimlerChrysler India Ltd (DCIL), the wholly owned subsidiary of German auto major DaimlerChrysler AG, is close to launching luxury buses inIndia as early as next year, making it the second major international bus maker toenter India after Volvo AB.
A top-level delegation from the German company’s bus division is in India right now working out the finer details. It is firming up plans to import the chassis from its Brazil plant and have the body built locally by the Jalandhar-based Sutlej Motors, so that it can launch at least two models in the country by early 2008, a person close to the development said. The person added that the company may start by selling a few fully built imported buses.
The person did not wish to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media. He said the company recently got at least two of its bus models modified to meet emission and safety standards in India. The plant in São Bernardo, Brazil, from where it plans to import the chassis for India, is a DaimlerChrysler Competence Center for bus chassis development andproduction.
“We are looking at the bus market. However, we have no decisions regarding a market entry and can’t comment at this point in time,” DCIL’s managing director Wilfried Aulbur said in an email response to Mint.
Sutlej Motors executives declined to comment citing a non-disclosure agreement with the German company. Sutlej is one of the country’s largest body and coach building companies and has its own brand of luxury buses, Lexia, in the market.
The bus market in India has transformed with the arrival of Swedish bus manufacturer Volvo whose luxury buses are now operated in large numbers on inter-city routes and, more recently, as city transport buses too.
The company recently announced its plans to set up a 1000-unit-a-year facility at Bangalore recently. A host of other global players, including Germany’s MAN, and Brazil’s Marcopolo, among others, are tying up with local players such as Tata Motors Ltd and Ashok Leyland Ltd to tapthe lucrative market forluxury buses.
The DaimlerChrysler group is a global leader in the luxury bus business where it sells buses under the Mercedes-Benz, Setra and Orion brands. It sold 36,200 such busesin 2006.
The German group’s bus division is also one of the leaders in introducing newertechnology into its vehicles. For instance, its buses come equipped with environment-friendly technology thatmeets Euro V emission requirements that have yet to come into effect.
The company is in the process of setting up a new plant in Pune which will eventually manufacture its cars and trucks and possibly buses, too. DCIL currently sells imported, fully built Actros trucks in India but recently said it will assemble the trucks here soon.