Fleet of BharatBenz buses and trucks spotted testing near Chennai

The Commercial Vehicles sector in India has evolved in the last few years with international players setting up shop to rival the two home-grown biggies, Tata and Ashok Leyland. Daimler, through its specific-to-India 'BharatBenz' brand, has been one of them, gaining share slowly and steadily. 

Starting off with their heavy duty haulage trucks, BharatBenz slowly expanded its portfolio to include trucks with capacity ranging from 9 to 49 tonnes. The first batch of BharatBenz branded buses were then introduced around this time last year. That's not all, there's more coming our way. This fleet of test vehicles from BharatBenz spotted running in close proximity to each other in the busy NH45 a few days back is proof of that. 

While three of the four vehicles spotted testing are already on sale, this bus with body built by 'Arrow' caught our attention. 

Bus bodies built on 12 meter chassis are quite popular in the intercity transportation sector with players like Ashok Leyland, Tata and Eicher being the big-sellers right now. With this bus, Daimler's next target appears to be this popular segment. The test vehicle was air-conditioned and had fixed windows. What made us feel good was the fact that passenger's safety has been well taken care of. A door for 'Emergency Exit' with provision to open from outside is present towards the rear of the bus on the right side while two openable emergency windows could also be seen on either sides.

Interestingly, a test mule of BharatBenz's Staff Bus that was launched late 2015 was also seen accompanying its bigger sibling. 

With an aluminique body built over frame borrowed from the Fuso Fighter, the Staff Bus is powered by a 3.9-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that belts out 140 horsepower and 420 Nm of torque and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. With a 2x2 seating layout, the Staff Bus can accommodate 39 passengers apart from the driver. We had our eyes and ears wide open for clues but still couldn't figure out what was being tested. But the very fact BharatBenz is testing something on the vehicle within an year of launch is an encouraging sign for this segment.

As always, BharatBenz's bread-and-butter medium duty haulage trucks, the 914R and 1214R, was also part of the test fleet. 

With payloads of 9 and 12 tonnes respectively, these trucks are powered by the same 3.9-liter engine that does duty in BharatBenz's Staff Bus. The power (140 HP) and torque (420 Nm) figures remain identical as well. Launched in 2012, these two trucks were responsible for establishing BharatBenz as a credible alternative to the Tatas and Ashok Leylands. 

2015 saw BharatBenz launch the next generation of these trucks dubbed MD IN-Power. With improved fuel efficiency, higher payload, higher service intervals, radial tyres, Multi Drive Mode and optional features like air-conditioning and anti-roll bar, the trucks raised the segment standards. These test vehicles go on to show BharatBenz isn't getting complacent at all and hint at more things in store for the 914 and 1214 series.

Watch this space!

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