Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), the maker of Bharat Benz trucks, on Wednesday said it will introduce its all-electric light truck eCanter in the Indian market within the next six to 12 months.

The eCanter will mark DICV's foray into India's light-duty truck segment.

"All our efforts are being put into achieving robust readiness for our future products that will feature CO2-neutral propulsion technologies in the long term. The launch of the all-electric eCanter in India, within the next 6 to 12 months, is the first step in our long-term strategy to decarbonise our entire product portfolio," says Satyakam Arya, managing director and CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles.

Arya, however, says the reality is that diesel ICE and CO2-neutral propulsion technologies will continue to co-exist in the Indian market for the foreseeable future. "A long-term plan like ours hinges on many complex external factors, some of which are, the availability of a charging and refuelling infrastructure, the availability of green energy, cost parity and wide-scale customer acceptance. Therefore, our initial focus with the eCanter is to achieve product and service excellence, along with customer acceptance," he says.

"Over the next two decades we will have a firm footing with decarbonised transportation solutions and will be making progress towards becoming a leader in sustainable transportation in India," says Arya.

DICV’s CO2-neutral propulsion technology roadmap is being prepared in line with Daimler Truck’s global technology strategy with battery electric and hydrogen-based drive technologies. DICV has already developed a BharatBenz hydrogen fuel cell concept coach in alliance with an Indian conglomerate.

“LNG, if used at all, will be an interim, tactical solution for long haul transportation. We will primarily commit to battery-electric and hydrogen-based propulsion technologies across our future product portfolio, in a phased manner. One thing is for sure that we will be ready with the right vehicles when the market is,” says Arya.

The all-electric eCanter for India is undergoing advanced trials. The battery-electric platform originated in Japan where the series production of the first-generation eCanter started in 2017. The all-new eCanter had its world premiere in Japan and Europe in the second half of 2022. Since the launch of the first-generation model in 2017, the eCanter has sold in hundreds in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Successful adoption of CO2-neutral vehicles is possible if there is wide consumer acceptance of changes in the equations of total cost of ownership, believes Arya. “By foraying into the CO2-neutral propulsion technologies, DICV aims at contributing to India’s future as it progresses towards becoming one of world’s top five commercial vehicle markets,” he says.

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