To know exactly in detail what BharatBenz had in mind for the trucking industry and if it actually is the future of smart trucking, we had a chat withÂ Florian Laudan, Head of Communications, Daimler Trucks Asia. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q- What is your take on the growing pollution of the country? How does BharatBenz plan to contribute to help reduce the problem?
A- Daimler India Commercial Vehicle operates in strict alignment with the governmental emission regulations to offer vehicles that are less polluting and have higher fuel efficiency. As a part of Daimler AG, DICV has access to proven technology in many markets to offer emission standards of up to EURO 6, which can be offered once the relevant norms are in place and availability of relevant graded fuel. As of today DICV is producing BharatBenz trucks compatible to BS IV norms for domestic market and FUSO vehicles compatible to Euro III â€“ V standards for exports. Our manufacturing plant at Oragadam, near Chennai, is amongst the cleanest manufacturing operation in the country with a solar power plant for reduced dependency on the grid and high level of effluent treatment facility.
Q- How does BharatBenz have an edge as compared to other truck brands in India?
A- Daimler is the largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in the world and invests heavily in the development of leading edge technology. Before commencing operations in India, we studied the market for almost five years to develop our class leading range, based on real market requirement. Our products are focused on offering value-for-money features, which include significant fuel efficiency advantages, best-in-class reliability with parts engineered for long lifespan and longer service intervals. BharatBenz trucks offer the lowest Total Cost of ownership and its dependable performance, contributes to our customersâ€™ success. As part of the Daimler Group, we have access to automation, safety, efficiency and hybrid technology from our global excellence centers and will be introduced as the market matures.
Q- You are known for your technological advancements. What’s the latest technology that will be used in trucks? Will it help in addressing concerns like safety and fuel efficiency?
A- Daimler is the world leader in safety technology and continues to offer class leading features in its vehicles. Our recent developments include the worldâ€™s first Autonomous Truck, Electronic Stability Control (ESP), Electronic Distance Control System, Lane Assist, Active Brake Assist, Blind Spot Assist, etc. So while, we have access to the entire suite of safety features, the market have to develop further in terms of infrastructure and maturity to be able to benefit from the technology. In India, we are offering class leading safety features like the robust cabin, ABS and LED lights among the prominent safety features.
Â In India, we are offering class leading safety features like the robust cabin, ABS and LED lights among the prominent safety features.
Q- Shortage and retention of employees are areas of major concern in the industry. What would be your suggestions to control this issue?
A- Daimler India Commercial Vehicle employs over 3,000 plus employees directly. It has given major push to employment of large work force, especially for Engineering and Management graduates, apart from workforce that is trained at our Integrated Training Center with proprietary designed programs and courses. The company has collaboration with educational institutes for recognition of its training programmes. The industry and educational institutions must work together in bridging the gap and make students more ready for the challenges in a real time environment. Spreading awareness is the need of the hour. Training is as essential.
Q- Overloading of trucks is a norm for India. What’s your take on it? How efficient are the BharatBenz trucks when it comes to overloading?
A- Overloading has been the cause of many fatalities in India. The government has taken strict measures and as per the new norms notified by the government, truckers carrying goods beyond the permitted load will end up paying 10 times higher toll charges. We understand the requirement of the customer and consider the habit while developing our products and offer relevant sales advice to our customer to ensure that such violations are not required.
Q- Affordability is an essential factor when it comes to India. Given BharatBenz’s technological advancements, theÂ brand name and methodology, how economically viable do you think the trucks actually are?
A- Daimler has invested heavily in the R&D of products that bring to India a technological edge. In fact, the introduction of new generation trucks has modernised the Indian Commercial Vehicles space. After a long time, India has witnessed modernised trucks on Indian roads. We have established state of the art R&D facilities, equipment, processed and systems that has supported Daimlerâ€™s endeavour. Daimler has also established a test track with the best ultra-modern facilities within South East Asia. The Indian customer is not averse to paying more but required appropriate justification upfront that his investments will pay back better in the future. We have already achieved localisation rate of over 85 per cent thus making our products competitive. We have set new standards in offering premium trucks with a total cost of ownership (TCO), high-quality and driver convenience features. DICVâ€™s â€˜Morden trucksâ€™ drive has led to trigger the need of transformation in the Indian truck and transportation industry.
DICVâ€™s â€˜Morden trucksâ€™ drive has led to trigger the need of transformation in the Indian truck and transportation industry.
Q- Truck driving is considered to be the deadliest occupation. How do you ensure safety of the truck drivers?
A- There needs to be a regulation to replace old vehicles, which will enhance safety and enable increased market acceptance for efficient and greener vehicles with better technology. Our trucks introduce a host of features, a first in the commercial vehicles industry, to enhance safety and performance. They boast of features like the intelligent-unitised fuel-injection system, balance-type rear suspension and inter-wheel differential in the haulage trucks and inter-wheel/inter-axle differential locks in the construction trucks, the unique â€œEngine-Brakeâ€ system, to name a few.
Q- What are your future plans when it comes to the Indian trucking industry?
A- The Indian trucking industry is witnessing an emergent trend of premium trucks. Our products have always been in line with the customersâ€™ expectations. To capture the growing premium trucks market in the MDT segment we plan to launch a premium category in this segment in the next few months. We have also recently unveiled our second wave of productsâ€“new BharatBenz high-power engine trucks and BharatBenz heavy duty tractors. With BharatBenz 3143; first time in the Indian mining segment a locally manufactured truck enters the deep mining segment. The BharatBenz 3143 will be a natural progression towards high powered, cost efficient mining trucks that will bridge the gap in the industry that currently offers premium trucks and trucks that are underpowered.
Q- How do you see the trucking industry of India changing in the next decade?
A- There are number of factors that will drive the growth and transformation of the Indian CV industry that include:
- Strong economic expansion
- Making Investor-friendly policies
- Significant incentive package with clarity in case of GST implementation
- Rapid implementation of infrastructure projects
- Creation of urban infrastructure at par with other Asian countries
- Time bound completion of assurances given to industries under the MoUs.
Q- What is your perspective on the trucking industry as it functions today? How can BharatBenz bring about a change to it?
A- To overcome the slump, OEMâ€™s are keen to offer â€˜discountsâ€™ to customers. This is just a reflex reaction and solves nothing. This affects the resale value of trucks and fleet owners will endure asset losses. Customers will get too used to discounts. This also affects the established brand value. BharatBenz has sold over 22,000 trucks without discounts. Truck makers have to look at real solutionsâ€“new products, new technologies at affordable costs, service orientation, driver education, maintenance contracts and tailored insurance.
Truck makers have to look at real solutionsâ€“new products, new technologies at affordable costs, service orientation, driver education, maintenance contracts and tailored insurance.