BharatBenz | Betting On Light-Duty Trucks

Building further on its encouraging sales of over 1,000 trucks in 2012, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles Pvt Ltd (DICV) recently launched the light-duty (LDT) range of trucks under its BharatBenz brand. The three-model range was launched in the price range of Rs10.15 and Rs13.58 lakh, ex-showroom, Chennai. The range will be produced at the company’s plant in Oragadam, Chennai.

The 914 and 1214 Rigid are aimed at the haulage segment, whereas the 1217 Tipper is for the construction segment. The trucks are powered by a four-cylinder common rail engine producing 140 hp for the rigid variants and 170 hp for the tipper model. At the launch, we got the opportunity to interact with Aydogan Cakmaz (top), Vice-President, Product Engineering, DICV and Georg Weiberg, Vice-President, Daimler Trucks & Head of Truck Product Engineering, Daimler AG.

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Cakmaz said the LDT range consists of vehicle developed specifically for India and makes use of a supplier network from the country. The range is based on the FUSO Fighter for the chassis & FUSO Canter for the Cab. Talking further of the supply chain, he said that the company has already achieved 85 % localisation for the LDT range, with most suppliers from the state of Tamil Nadu.

The 3.9 l engine is a modernised unit and complies with BS III emission norms, but is scalable to meet future emission norms as well. Key features of the engine include four-valve and common-rail technology considering the segment offering. Owing to the technical advancements, the engine is claimed to offer higher fuel efficiency and reliability. Power too is higher than segment standards and is an important factor as it allows operators to complete more trips in lesser time. This has been one of the key reasons for the success of the brand in India despite commanding a price premium.

One key area of work for India was to prevent corrosion, for which the engineers had to adopt methods beyond simple painting of the chassis. Powder-coating came up as a solution to counter corrosion and is good for about five to eight years, depending on various factors. The company also offers two types of six-speed transmissions to suit long-haulage or construction applications, one from FUSO and the other from Daimler.

An important yet less looked into factor in India is that of driver comfort in the truck segment. BharatBenz claims its transmission with cable-shifting technology is extremely easy to use and takes off a significant amount of burden from the drivers. Cabin comfort too is in line with the characteristics of the FUSO brand and offers the best-in-class quality.

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Talking of cost-optimisation, Weiberg made it clear that no kind of de-contenting was carried out on the trucks. In order to lower costs, the company looked at every possible way to make processes efficient.

The high fuel efficiency has turned out to be a fulfilled promise since the launch of BharatBenz in India. Weiberg stated that this has been possible due to the combination of technologies such as efficient combustion, right gear ratios, friction reduction, and aerodynamic efficiency. As Cakmaz and his team continue to develop vehicles tailor-made for India, it’s clear that technology will continue to spearhead the company’s strategy in India.

Text: Arpit Mahendra