DaimlerChrysler: 9,300 Workers Leaving Mercedes Car Group; Talks Underway With Indian Truck Manufacturers

Cost of job cuts less than expected; DaimlerChrysler looking for link-up in India.

STUTTGART, Germany (AP) – DaimlerChrysler AG's plant to eliminate jobs at its Mercedes Car Group has been more successful than originally anticipated, with 9,300 workers taking early retirement or buyouts, the carmaker said Tuesday.

Guenther Fleig, who oversees human resources, told reporters that the cost for cutting the positions was also smaller than planned.

Fleig said the actual cost of the cuts would be $1.06 billion, not the previously announced amount of $1.2 billion to cut an expected 8,500 jobs.

The Mercedes Car Group, which makes the marquee Mercedes-Benz line of cars and includes the ultracompact unit Smart, was hit last year by a 1.3 million vehicle recall, and by a major restructuring of Smart.

Job cuts were announced as a way to control costs and make the company leaner due to competition from Asian automakers, among others.

Also on Tuesday, DaimlerChrysler announced that they are talking with Indian truck manufacturers about a possible link-up to build vehicles in India.

DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman Julia Kroeber-Riel said that the company is discussing partnerships with several potential manufacturers to locate an Indian comapny that would produce trucks under a local brand name using DaimlerChrysler technology.

Although Kroeber-Riel did not identify any of the potential partners or say how long the talks might take, Ashok Leyland Ltd. chief financial officer, K. Sridharan, said the Indian truck and bus builder was in talks about an alliance with global truck makers, including DaimlerChrysler, Sweden's Scania AB and Volvo AB.

Volvo spokesman Maarten Wikforss declined to comment on Sridharan's remarks, but reiterated that Volvo has acquisition plans in emerging markets including India.

Scania spokesman Hans-Aake Danielsson said his company was not in talks with Ashok Leyland.