Daimler AG which is the world's biggest truck-maker, is ready to launch its product in India by the second half of 2012, it is eying a major slice of the local truck market pie. Daimler, an iconic global brand whose interest in trucks goes back more than a century, is donning a complete Indian avatar, even going to the extent of calling itself Bharat Benz. Its India operations have been built from scratch, with no readily available global blueprint for help.

Daimler's India MD and CEO Marc Llistosella said that, "We are a domestic player. This is an Indian company.’’ The Indian unit's parent sold more than 3.5 lakh trucks last year, raking in about 24 billion euros in the process. Entry of Daimler in India was initially planned through a joint venture with the Hero Group. But the latter pulled out in 2009, leaving Daimler to make the India charge on its own.

The company has made the decision to deal with India in a special way, introducing things unknown to Daimler's vast operations anywhere else. Like, in February this year, it launched brand Bharat Benz for the Indian market, the first-time ever the German giant has launched a country-specific brand. Further the company has put together an advisory council in India, which includes Bharat Forge CMD Baba Kalyani, software services company Cognizant's Lakshmi Narayanan, HDFC MD Renu Karnad, former Finance Secretary Arun Ramanathan and lawyer PS Raman. "They meet the board members. Because it is important our board members do not hear only us. So they have a corrective," he said. "So, when they have questions about financing a truck, questions on suppliers, and questions on market reach and so on, they can immediately interact with totally independent people. They don't need us." By setting up this panel, Daimler is following the footsteps of other global MNCs such as Microsoft, Siemens, Bosch and Novartis in India.

Daimler isn't the only global truck-maker eyeing India. Many others such as Volvo, Nissan and Navistar are too. But only they have chosen the joint venture path while Daimler is going solo. Volvo, Nissan and Navistar have tie-ups with Eicher, Ashok Leyland and Mahindra & Mahindra, respectively.

Of course, Daimler's German counterpart MAN is now going solo too, after recently buying stake from its Indian partner Force Motors. MAN's move has come after Volkswagen bought majority control in MAN worldwide.

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