Mercedes-Benz seeks tie-ups with states for low-floor buses

March 18th, 2009 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 18 (IANS) Luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz India, which entered into the bus market last year, is looking for tie-ups with state transport undertakings (STU) for selling its low-floor buses, a top official said here Wednesday.
“After launching inter-city luxury coaches, now we are looking at other segments like low-floor city buses and three axle buses. While talks are on with STUs, no contract has been finalised,” company managing director and chief executive Wilfried Aulbur told reporters.

The company has sold around 25 buses to inter-city transport operators till date.

Volvo, its main competitor in the sector, is already selling its air conditioned buses to some STUs.

However, Aulbur declined to comment on the targets the company has set for the current year.

While components like tyres are locally sourced, Mercedes-Benz imports chassis for the buses.

“The current volumes are not sufficient for local production of the chassis. Perhaps when our commercial vehicle joint venture with Hero group starts operations, we may look at sourcing chassis from them. But that will take a couple of years to happen,” Aulbur said.

According to him, the shrinking demand for commercial vehicles has not affected Benz’s truck sales.

“While the commercial vehicles segment has fallen drastically, sales of vehicles to coal mines have not been greatly affected,” Aulbur said.

“In 2008, we sold around 240 trucks logging 53 percent growth over the previous year. In India our truck population is around 500 units,” he added.

Launching the M Class sports utility vehicle here, Aulbur said the luxury car market may log lower growth this fiscal as compared to 2008.

“Compared to 2007, we grew 46 percent last year selling 3,625 units.”

Aulbur added that the company would invest Rs.1.5 billion to improve “infrastructure at our dealer outlets”.

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