HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - Volkswagen is looking at ways to expand its truck operations in Asia, the head of its heavy trucks unit said, as it seeks to build a global business to challenge rivals Daimler and Volvo.
Volkswagen (VW), pushing strategic changes a year after its diesel emissions scandal, said earlier this month it would take a stake in U.S. truckmaker Navistar as part of a technology and purchasing alliance with the firm.
Though VW's trucks division is preoccupied with aligning its MAN and Scania brands more closely to boost cost savings, overseas expansion remains on the agenda despite the rising costs of the group's "dieselgate" emissions scandal.
"Our goal of course was first of all to cover the blank spot North America," VW trucks chief Andreas Renschler said, as the deal with Navistar will give VW access to the lucrative U.S. trucks market. "We are looking at the issue of India."
"You can assume that we will come up with certain ideas for Asia too," Renschler told reporters during the Hanover trucks show, without being more specific.
Renschler, a former head of Daimler Trucks, said the VW division was considering steps to further expand in China where subsidiary MAN owns a stake in local manufacturer Sinotruk Hong Kong.
Separately, Renschler said VW has no plans at present for a public listing of its trucks business, nor is there a timetable for such a move in coming years as speculated in the media.
MAN, market leader in Brazil for trucks weighing more than 5 metric tons, plans to improve product management in India and expand its sales network on the subcontinent where it has a subsidiary, MAN trucks chief Joachim Drees said.
"I believe we can generate further growth there," Drees told Reuters. "We see the potential to become better in India", where MAN currently sells about 2,000 trucks a year.
MAN has no plans for further job cuts in Brazil after slimming down operations in Latin America's largest economy as truck demand slumped amid the economic recession, according to Drees.
"We will keep employment levels for the time being," he said. MAN employs about 1,800 workers in Brazil to build trucks and buses.
(Reporting by Andreas Cremer, Jan Schwartz and Irene Preisinger. Editing by Christoph Steitz and Susan Fenton)