Daimler starts production of Mercedes trucks in China
Daimler Truck has started production of Mercedes-Benz trucks in China, gaining a first-mover advantage over international rivals including Volvo and Scania that also eye the huge Chinese market.
The first Mercedes trucks rolled off production lines on Friday at a plant of Daimler's joint venture Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive Co in Beijing.
Currently, the Actros and the Actros C are produced at the 3.8-billion yuan ($530 million) plant, with a designed annual capacity of 60,000 vehicles.
Daimler Truck hailed local production of Mercedes trucks "a new chapter" for its business in China.
Its 10-year old joint venture has been producing more affordable Auman-branded trucks, and Mercedes-Benz trucks were imported into China before their local production started on Friday.
Karl Deppen, head of Daimler Truck Asia, said China offers significant future growth potential for Daimler Truck.
"With Daimler Truck's state-of-the-art technology capitalizing on our global platform strategy, we strive to exceed our customers' expectations in the advanced heavy-duty truck market segment in China,” he said.
China is the world's biggest market for heavy trucks, with around 1.5 million units sold in 2021 - more than in the US, Japan and Europe combined, according to data from German car association VDA.
But the market is so far largely dominated by local companies including FAW's Jiefang, Dongfeng Motor and Sinotruk, which offer more price-competitive products.
Holger Scherr, president and CEO of Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive Co, said China's truck market is going upward, adding that trucks are not only transport tools but also investments.
"We are confident that the localized Mercedes-Benz Actros and Mercedes-Benz Actros C will bring significant value and benefits to the customers and drivers, further contributing to the 'customer first' brand commitment of Mercedes-Benz Trucks in China.”
Scherr added that those models are tailor-made for Chinese customers, with features unseen in the company's products in Europe or other parts of the world.
He said around 50 percent of the Actros' components are locally acquired, and the figure reaches around 90 percent for the Actros C.
Other major truck makers including Scania and Volvo have revealed plans to make inroads into China's heavy truck market as well.
Scania acquired a truck maker in 2020 in Jiangsu province but local production has not yet started. Volvo's plan to purchase a subsidiary of China's Jiangling Motors Co is still waiting for government approval.