Daimler AG (IW 1000/15) plans to adapt its flagship Mercedes-Benz Actros heavy-duty truck for China as part of a push to increase global sales by about 40% by the end of the decade, according to people familiar with the matter.
Developed together with Chinese joint venture partner Beiqi Foton Motor Co., the long-haul truck will be tailored for customers in the world’s biggest commercial-vehicle market and go on sale in a few years, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the plan is confidential.
The vehicle would bring top-of-the-line Mercedes technology for fuel efficiency and driver comfort and safety to China in a sign that Daimler sees the market maturing. Chinese truck demand has traditionally been dominated by locally produced low-frills models as imported upscale vehicles often struggle to cope with rough road conditions and replacement parts are expensive.
Florian Martens, a spokesman for Daimler’s truck unit, declined to comment on the plan.
Daimler, the world’s largest truckmaker as well as the parent of the Mercedes car brand, started cooperation with Foton in 2012, including establishing the local Auman brand.
Boosting its presence in China is a cornerstone of the manufacturer’s plans to lift annual worldwide sales to more than 700,000 trucks by 2020 after selling more than 500,000 for the first time last year. In addition to selling Mercedes trucks in Europe, Daimler is the market leader in North America with the Freightliner nameplate, while its Fuso unit sells medium-duty vehicles in Asia.