Daimler Buses India, a unit of Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), is optimistic about the revival of the domestic bus market after Diwali, said a top official.

“The industry is down by 95% due to the pandemic, whereas we are performing better than the industry with DICV bus sales down by 50%,” said Karl-Alexander Seidel, CEO and India head, Daimler Buses.

“We expect the market to pick up during the festive season starting October,” Mr. Seidel added.

“Orders are slowly coming. The forecast for 2020 is very low and recovery can be foreseen only in 2021,” the chief executive noted.

“The 2019 domestic bus sales for the industry was pegged at 43,000 units, while from January to August 2020, the sales stood at 12,500 units,” he said.

Sales to more than halve

“Going by the current trend, the segment might end the year in the range of 17,000 to 20,000 units for 2020, a contraction of more than 50%.

“Last year, we had 35% of the sales coming from school bus segment, 55% for staff transportation and rest from tourist segment.

“This year, orders for school buses is dead. We are getting orders mainly for staff and tourist needs and balance for chassis.”

Refusing to disclose the sales numbers of DICV, he said it was very much on track. The pandemic did not alter DICV’s time frame for achieving break-even.

Mr. Seidel said DICV was ranked number three in the bus segment, behind Ashok Leyland and Eicher Motors. It would take time to occupy the second position and till then, DICV would keep pace to maintain its current position, he said.

Since 2016, DICV had sold 7,500 BharatBenz buses, of which 3,000 units were exported. DICV currently exports buses to South Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin American markets. About two-thirds of the volume caters to domestic needs and the balance is exported. He also said DICV switched over to BS VI norms with ease and had cleared BS-IV stocks ahead of the deadline.

No job losses, pay cuts

To a question on the impact of COVID-19, he said it did affect the company’s production. But, it did not result in pay cuts or job losses.

The bus division at Oragadam worked a single shift and truck division two shifts.

Right now, all the dealership outlets were working in full swing across the country, he added.

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