Dhe truckmaker Daimler Truck is continuing its expansion plans in China, despite calls for greater decoupling from the country. The group, which is considered the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, will start production of Mercedes-Benz trucks in its Chinese joint venture this Friday, the company announced.
This shows once again that the demands of Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) to restrict trade with China fall on deaf ears in the German auto industry.
When asked about the political tensions, Daimler Truck Asia Board Member Karl Deppen said the situation was being monitored very closely. However, investment decisions are very long-term, said the manager in a video conference with journalists that took place as part of the IAA Transportation commercial vehicle trade fair in Hanover.
Daimler hopes for growth
China is “the largest market for heavy trucks in the world and offers significant growth potential,” said Deppen. Last year, the company turned over only 5.7 of 39 billion euros in Asia, most of it in Japan. So far, a third of sales have come from Europe and the USA. Daimler Truck has been an independent company for nine months and before that belonged to the Mercedes-Benz group.
According to Deppen, the market in China is becoming more professional. That’s why he thinks it’s a good time to start with the more expensive Mercedes trucks in China. These are more expensive to purchase, which is what Chinese customers have previously paid particular attention to. However, energy costs would now also become a major issue in the People’s Republic. Therefore, “the high efficiency of our vehicles will make itself felt.
No information on production targets
In China, the truck manufacturer has been cooperating with the Chinese company Foton Motor for about ten years. The Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive (BFDA) joint venture, in which both partners each hold half, has already manufactured Auman brand vehicles in Beijing and has an annual production of around 100,000 vehicles. Overall, the group sold 455,000 vehicles last year, not counting the sales of the joint venture.
BFDA boss Holger Scherr left open in the video conference how many Mercedes-Benz trucks are to be produced in China in the future. So far, the vehicles have been imported. One is satisfied with the structure of the joint venture, said Deppen. “We feel comfortable with the partnership,” he replied when asked whether the company, like other European manufacturers, wanted to take a majority stake in the joint venture.
Daimler Truck announced the investments in the new plant about two years ago. The investment amount was then estimated at 485 million euros. According to the company, the plant has an area of more than 400,000 square meters. At the same time, according to Scherr, more than 100 operating and service points were set up along the country’s most important logistics axes.
Scherr sees several advantages in the new Daimler production facility in China: The company can use it to reduce costs and no longer have long supply chains. Many large corporations are pursuing this so-called local-for-local strategy. The vehicles are also “not one-to-one copies from Europe,” said Scherr. Trucks in China are allowed to drive faster, the routes are longer, the vehicles have larger tanks, and the drivers usually travel in pairs. The vehicles have now been adapted to this. At the same time, compared to Germany, there are fewer configuration options for customers to reduce production costs.
“We are starting with a pure diesel drive,” said Deppen when asked about the drive of the trucks produced. That covers more than 90 percent of the market in China. They are also working on alternative drives, but many of them are still in the testing stage. China is the “hotspot” for all zero-emission vehicles. That doesn’t sound like a retreat either.