Daimler, the heavy-duty truck and bus maker, is planning to launch India's first electric truck as it continues to bet on the domestic market.
The German auto giant, which makes medium and heavy trucks and buses under the BharatBenz and Fuso brands, is scheduled to have an event next year titled ‘Future Mobility’. A Daimler India Commercial Vehicle (DICV) official said the company would reveal its plans for the electric truck at the event.
Last week, at the FICCI annual general meeting, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said: “I had an interaction with the managing director of Mercedes-Benz. He was telling me they are planning to launch an electric truck.”
The brand Mercedes-Benz, which is popularly associated with luxury vehicles, belongs to Daimler AG. Daimler’s commercial vehicle division also uses the three-pointed star logo on its trucks.
The government is keen to cut down oil imports and make India a global manufacturing hub for electric vehicles.
For the international market Daimler is on course to launch a fully-electric truck in 2021.
The light-duty Fuso eCanter is the first all-electric truck from Daimler Trucks for series production and its second-generation version will be launched next year. The eCanter has a drive range of 100 km and can carry a payload of up to 3,200 kg.
Daimler has been at the forefront with regards to introduction of new technology in India. It was the only company to have launched Bharat Stage 5 (BS-V) trucks in India even though there was no such requirement as manufacturers were asked to jump from BS-IV to BS-VI.
On the road not taken
If Daimler launches an electric truck in India it could get the first-mover advantage. While several commercial vehicle makers have launched fully electric buses on Indian roads, no manufacturer has shown much interest in replicating this for trucks.
Home-grown commercial vehicle heavyweights such as Tata Motors, VE Commercial Vehicles, Ashok Leyland and Mahindra & Mahindra have either delivered fully electric buses to buyers or are working on developing such vehicles for launch in the coming years.
Other companies, with the backing of Chinese firms such as BYD and Beiqi Foton, have also bagged large orders to supply electric buses to Indian transporters.
Staying the course
Despite a fall of 36 percent in wholesale volumes during 2019 to just under 14,500 units, DICV has refused to take its foot off the pedal as far as investments are concerned. The Chennai-based CV maker signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Tamil Nadu in May this year covering a further investment of Rs 2,277 crore.
The investments are designed to expand CV production at the Oragadam plant. This investment represents the creation of around 400 jobs. DICV’s retail volumes stood at just under 15,200 units, down 29 percent from 2018.The company’s market share in the over-9-tonne category slipped slightly to 5.8 percent in 2019 from the 6 percent clocked in 2018. In its own submission, the company said this was its worst market share in five years.