Daimler buses for mainstream Indian operation
Following the 2010 sale of its final shareholding in Tata Motors, Daimler AG has moved back into the Indian commercial vehicle market with serious intent.
The process of restoring full participation had first started in 2006, with the marketing of imported Mercedes-Benz Actros tippers, but took on real impetus with the construction of a new commercial vehicle plant near Chennai – which came on stream in 2012 – as well as the announcement that Daimler would build and sell dedicated BharatBenz medium and heavy trucks in India.
The lighter applications were to be based on Fuso’s Canter range, while the heavier models would stem from the Mercedes-Benz Axor lineup. Back in 2006, a separate arrangement had also been initiated with Sutlej Motors Limited to provide luxury coach bodies for Mercedes-Benz’s rear-engined bus chassis, which were to be assembled at a dedicated plant near Pune.
With its BharatBenz truck operation now firmly established, Daimler India Commercial Vehicle Pvt. Limited (DICV) has announced that it has consolidated the previous independently managed bus sales and service organisation into its structure. This operation had already delivered some 350 Mercedes-Benz coaches to Indian customers, and efforts to market the manufacturer’s low-entry city buses in the region had also been initiated. The consolidation will allow the integration of bus and coach sales, financing and technical support with the BharatBenz network.
Assembly of the passenger chassis, sourced from Daimler in Brazil, will continue at Chakan, near Pune, and will not be relocated to the truck assembly facility at DICV’s Oragadam headquarters site.
The coach models marketed in India with Sutlej-supplied bodies are two and three-axle variants of the O 500 family both of which are powered by rear-mounted Mercedes-Benz in-line six-cylinder turbo-intercooled diesel engines with full electric fuel injection. The 12-metre 4×2 model is powered by the OM 926 engine delivering 225 kW (302 hp), while the 13,7-metre 6×2 chassis has the larger displacement OM 457 power unit, developing 265 kW (355 hp).
The low-entry city bus, that was exhibited at Delhi’s Auto Expo in 2012, was reportedly a joint product of Mercedes-Benz and Egyptian bodybuilder MCV. The specification included a Euro-3-compliant OM 906 engine developing 260 hp, an automatic transmission, integrated retarder, air suspension with kneeling facility and disc brakes with ABS.