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Daimler to beef up its R&D activities in India

India,Business/Economy, Wed, 18 Apr 2012 IANS

Chennai, April 18 (IANS) German automobile major Daimler AG will produce trucks from its new plant in Tamil Nadu from where it will export the vehicles to Africa, Middle East and Asean countries, a top company official said here Wednesday.


India will also figure high in the company's global research and development (R&D) plan. "We have a substantial R&D work relating to cars in India. It is growing fast with around 800 people. The R&D team for trucks will be grown," Board Chairman Dieter Zetsche said.


He said Daimler has around 1,000 R&D experts in India and that number will be increased significantly in next few years.


Asked about Daimler's luxury car Mercedes Benz being overtaken by rivals in India, he said: "We were the first to come with a production facility in India. We will be coming out with more attractive products."


Referring to Daimler's tie-up with Renault-Nissan Alliance Zetsche said: "It is a global tie-up. We will have to first see how the tie-up products do in the markets we are looking at."


However, he did not rule out the possibility of some activity in India with regard to the Renault-Nissan tie-up.


Confirming the development that Daimler will be shifting the production of earthmoving equipment (heavy trucks used in mines also called off-the-highway vehicles), Marc Llistosella, managing director and ceo of Daimler India Commercial Vehicles Pvt Ltd (DICV) said: "We will shift the CKD (completely knocked down) assembly of Actros trucks to Chennai (Oragadam)."


The 36,000 units per annum Oragadam plant set up at an outlay of around Rs.2,500 crore was inaugurated by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.


Jayalalithaa said the state government had offered attractive package to support Daimler following which the latter had agreed to scale up its investment to Rs.4,000 crore.


The plant has a capacity to roll out 24,000 heavy duty trucks and 12,000 light duty trucks per year on a two-shift basis. it will roll out 18 truck variants with vehicle capacity ranging from 7-16 tonne on the light duty side and 25-49 tonne under the heavy duty category.


Eighty five percent of the components, including the engine and gear box, are locally sourced.


An official of Mercedes Benz India told IANS from Pune that the shifting of bus production to Tamil Nadu had begun.


Daimler through its other subsidiary Mercedes Benz India based in Pune has been rolling out Actros trucks and Mercedes Benz buses.


The plant is expected to achieve the full capacity by 2014-15 and the company targets a market share of 20 percent in the Indian truck market dominated by Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland.


However, Llistosella was non-committal about the market share target and said: "We have the volume and we have a target."


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