D/C will expand into the Indian truck market

Stuttgart, Germany. DaimlerChrysler's commercial vehicles division is about to enter the Indian market.

"We will be selling heavy commercial vehicles and buses in India for the first time this year," Hans-Michael Huber, head of DaimlerChrysler India, told Automobilwoche.

Potential Indian customers are currently testing D/C's Actros heavy truck.

"We assume that we will manage to sell about 500 units a year," although India-built trucks cost around a tenth of an Actros truck, said Huber.

D/C also is considering selling its Viano van in India.

India is only one example of DaimlerChrysler's current expansion in the commercial vehicle sector.

The world's largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles managed to increase its operating results in 2004 by 64 percent to 1.3 billion euros. With unit sales of 712,200 heavy trucks, buses and transporters, the division exceeded its 1999 record.

This year is also expected to be very profitable, said Andreas Renschler, D/C board member responsible for the commercial vehicle division.

Renschler said he now sees "light at the end of the tunnel" for Japan's truck and bus producer Fuso.

D/C holds a 65 percent stake in Fuso and soon will receive a further 20 percent stake, now held by Mitsubishi Motors as part of a $651.2 million compensation package over defect cover-ups. Other companies in the Mitsubishi group hold the remaining 15 percent of Fuso.

Fuso had to recall around one million trucks last year. That's one reason, Renschler said, he does not want to increase his company's share in Fuso. "We are not interested in taking over the remaining 15 percent. Fuso should remain a Japanese corporation."

Renschler said that D/C will concentrate on a radical rehabilitation program for Fuso to eliminate quality problems.

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