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Business

Daimler buses to conquer Indian roads by 2020

Made in India for India: Daimler has inaugurated a new bus plant near Chennai in a bid to secure a huge slice of the highly competitive market. The company's bus division chief says he expects sales to double by 2020.

German auto giant Daimler has set out to conquer India's roads, saying on Wednesday it expected to dramatically increase the sales of commercial vehicles in one of the world's fastest-growing economies over the next five years.

"We expect the volume of the Indian market for buses weighing over eight tons to more than double by 2020," said head of Daimler Buses Hartmut Schick during the inauguration of the company's new bus plant in Oragadam near Chennai.

Daimler India Commercial Vehicle (DICV), a subsidiary of the Stuttgart-based carmaker, has invested 50 million euros ($54.4 million) in the 28-acre facility, which is set up to initially churn out 1,500 units annually. Production capacity could later be expanded to 4,000 units, said Daimler board member Wolfgang Bernhard, also present at Wednesday's ceremony.

"Our buses are Made in India and for India," said Schick.

The new plant would swell the subsidiary's current workforce from some 3,000 employees to as many as 5,000, added Daimler Buses India Managing Director Markus Villinger.

The multi-million-euro investment reflects a growing international interest in the world's seventh-largest economy. Schick on Wednesday said BharatBenz had logged 34,000 orders since introducing its first truck to the market in 2012. And sales are soaring, with the brand posting a 63-percent jump in

this year's first quarter sales

, compared to the same period in 2014.

By adding to the existing plant, Daimler will be able to produce buses, trucks and engines for three brands - Mercedes Benz, BharatBenz and FUSO - under one roof. Production at the facility first began in 2011, when the company announced its BharatBenz brand - a first stab at penetrating the fast-growing Indian truck market.

pad/hg (dpa, Reuters)

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