Mercedes-Benz moves into truck rental market in Brazil

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Mercedes-Benz is seen outside a Mercedes-Benz car dealer in Brussels

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Daimler Truck said on Tuesday it will launch its first truck rental business in Brazil, where the vehicle leasing market is expanding.

Sales of new trucks in Brazil are under pressure from higher vehicle prices because of stricter rules on pollutant emissions, high interest rates that make financing difficult and an economy that is expected to grow less in 2024. Renting for some clients is a more affordable option.

The German group, owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand, already operates a bank and an insurance brokerage in Brazil, in addition to producing trucks and buses that compete with Brazil's truck producer VWCO.

It said it expects the new business to rent an initial 100 trucks, to have 200 vehicles by the end of the year, and that it will require an investment of 200 million reais ($40.18 million).

Daimler Truck will compete against local truck renters Vamos and Localiza Pesados, as well as international players Volvo, Scania and VWCO, the latter two belonging to the Traton group.

Cristina Rensi, director of new business at Daimler Trucks in Brazil, said in an interview that only 1% of Brazil's bus and truck fleet was available for rental until 2021. This percentage rose to 2% last year, of a fleet of 3.8 million trucks in operation in the country. In terms of new trucks, 6.5% registered in Brazil in 2022 were for rental. The share rose to around 10% in 2023 and the company's forecast for 2024 is between 14% and 15%, said Rensi, citing market data.

($1 = 4.9774 reais)

(Reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr.; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Steven Grattan and Barbara Lewis)