Daimler sees material growth in Japan truck market


FRANKFURT, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Daimler, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, expects the truck market in Japan to see material growth in the coming years driven by reconstruction efforts following March's catastrophic earthquake.

"The pace of the economic recovery here is impressive," Daimler Trucks chief Andreas Renschler told reporters at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The rebound also helped lift output at its Japanese unit Mitsubishi Fuso, which builds in Kawasaki the Canter light duty truck, Daimler's best-selling truck in its entire model range.

"We were able to restart (Fuso) production very quickly. In September, it almost tripled compared with March," Renschler said.

The Daimler Trucks chief underlined the importance of Fuso in its brand portfolio, explaining the Japanese subsidiary will provide the cabs, chassis, engines and transmissions for the new BharatBenz brand of light and medium-duty trucks in India.

"Fuso is a cornerstone of our business," he said.

The Japanese truckmaker, which is 89.3 percent owned by Daimler, is the country's third largest after market leader Isuzu and Hino, majority controlled by Toyota .

Fuso is presenting the second-generation of Canter Eco Hybrid at the Tokyo Motor show, along with a new hybrid version of the Fuso Super Great long hauler.

"By 2015, we want Fuso to be the leader in alternative drive systems ... for the global commercial vehicle market," said Fuso chief Albert Kirchmann in a statement.

Speaking about the global economy, Renschler said the company was monitoring developments very closely in view of a sharp cool down in major economic indicators.

"But we don't see any reason for panic. And one thing is certain -- we know we've got the strength and flexibility to manage the economic ups and downs," he said.

Daimler Trucks posted a third quarter operating profit of 1.45 billion euros and a margin of 7.1 percent in the first nine months of this year. (Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner. Editing by Jane Merriman)


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