Bharatbenz 2523R: What it means to cover 10 Lakh (1 million) kms?

What it is for a truck to log up 10 lakh kilometers on Indian roads? Hard to believe, the ‘kilometre millionaire’ is still rocking, ready to gulp another million miles!

One million kilometers. That’s like Neil Armstrong going to moon by road (there isn’t any!) and returns back to earth, only to realise that he has lost his wallet at the white satellite and starts off once again to get it back, and fathoms more than half all the way to moon! Or simply, that’s equivalent to circuiting the earth along the equator for about 25 times! And, that too amid rather intriguing road conditions, traffic scenarios, and wild vehicular behaviour of Indian highways, I better leave it to your imagination. Simply terrifying.

BharatBenz 2523R: First-ever Bharatbenz truck to clock one million kms

The quintessential ‘MH’ registered BharatBenz 2523R, when introduced to me as the ‘kilometre millionaire’ – the star of the ‘BharatKaBenz’ yatra – by the touring team, I was hardly convinced. Is this the truck that had put over a million kilometers, I asked myself with suspicion. I ain’t guilty, as the hauler simply did not look like fiercely beaten up, even as every random truck you spot on local highway looks like one! Nor did the truck look spic and span to say that the manufacturer has spruced it up as a promotional gimmick for the sake of this campaign.

A closer inspection brought some clarity. Foggy headlamp dooms, faded bumper and side plastic trims, windshield cracks, and casual bumps on the body here and there made it clear that the truck had done some notable odo mileage. On the inside, the cabin trims and plastic dashboard parts have lost their freshness, the blower vents have clogged, glove boxes and overhead bins are broken, steering wheel crooked off center, and seat fabrics torn apart.

I turned on the key, the odometer reading popped up to smash all the remaining hunches. When fired up, the engine came to life with little cranking efforts and the idling was quite smooth. Revving up the vehicle was quite rejoicing, much to my surprise, especially when you go with an unconscious partis pris out of imagination about a truck that has accumulated a million kilometers.

Although I was behind the wheels of this truck for just few kilometers, I can confidently say that the vehicle did not feel any weird or inferior in terms of acceleration and power delivery, gear shifts were just fine, and the refinement of its 6.3-litre, 6-cylinder BS-III engine generating 230 hp is quite exemplary, even better than many other new trucks I had driven lately.

Surviving ‘Million’ Factors

The fact that this truck is standing strong after a million kilometers with stock engine and transmission, with no extraordinary repairs outside preventive maintenance bears some key findings and takeaways. Though obviously essential spares and components that give away on a periodic basis like timing belt, clutch plate, brake pads and drums, and so on would have to have been replaced more than few times over the vehicles’ busy years.

But the actual substance here in this case is that original engine and transmission have never been opened up in their operating lifetimes so far, which is a phenomenal accomplishment for haulage trucks operating in India. The company even claims that indicators like clutch and brake life or tyre wear have also exceeded industry averages significantly in these trucks.

Let me explain. Although modern CV engines and other key aggregates are designed for longer life with increased service intervals, the traditional trucking culture that prevails in our country takes a heavy toll on them. Most often, trucks are pushed to their limits due to overloading and plying them on a plethora of terrains, roads, and cargo applications, as cost-conscious buyers hardly pay heed in selecting products that suit their applications.

Tippers are the most abused lot, but highway haulers do face the brunt. Engines are made to run at full capacity and maximum rev speeds, and face rude acceleration and gear shifting behaviour by drivers. Operators at times resort to frugal maintenance instead of relatively expensive authorised service, and even skip preventive replacements so as to extract the maximum life out of those aggregates. It is precisely because of these factors that truck engines, transmissions, axles and reduction hubs last longer and survive a million kilometers.

Also Read: BharatBenz 2523C 6×4 Construction Tipper – Customer Review

That way, an engine that runs at relatively low speeds and rightly loaded at all times is likely to last longer than a mill running at higher speeds and heavy load. In addition, driving cycle involving longer distances at constant speeds over the vehicle’s lifetime does impact its long-run survivabilities. That’s precisely why buses plying for inter-city operations clock longer odo mileages in their lifetimes, unlike trucks. If it’s any consolation, the awareness among operators and drivers to extend the lifetime of trucks in sustainable ways through proper preventive maintenance and informed driving is fast catching up in recent times.

The truck in this case, belonging to JSS Logistics, Nagpur, had been chartered to Safexpress for long-haulage of parcels between Nagpur and Salem. Going by SOPs of the renowned logistics company, their trucks stringently follow eco-driving and speed limit principles, owing to damage risks involved in speeding with a great mix of cargo parcels they haul.

Further, in parcel logistics, the average occupancy of trucks are relatively lower than other applications, hovering around just 70 percent to their peak haulage capacity. And, of course, they take up preventive maintenance at authorised service centers very seriously so as to ensure maximum up time. Thus, the kind of cargo this truck has been carrying and the route it was plying, along with trained drivers, must have been very conducive for it to realise the million number.

‘Mercedes-Benz’ Legacy

The truck has munched about a staggering 550 kms per day on a average in the last five years, meaning that this product in itself is conspicuously superior and reliable than a typical value-segment truck one can find in the market. The robustness of the mechanical aggregates and chassis, cabin built quality, and other major components is quite evident.

One million kms with stock engine and transmission for a truck, with no extraordinary repairs outside preventive maintenance, is a huge feat

The case also reflects the high maintenance standards set by DICV and superlative quality of its genuine spares have immensely pushed up the aggregate life of the two vehicles and lower their total cost of ownership in the long run. No wonder the owners of these two mileage munchers are not willing to give up their reliable work horses, even after blowing up their odometers with 7-digit numbers. DICV had to rent these vehicles on per day basis for sake of this yatra. Serendipitous machines, they are!

Beyond any doubt, this phenomenal trait of unmatched reliability and superior technical know-how on preventive maintenance and service for BharatBenz brand comes from the legacy of Daimler AG, more appropriately, from Mercedes-Benz Trucks. The heavy-duty range of BharatBenz is based on MB’s Axor platform that introduced the best of both worlds in European Trucking the previous decade – premium technology and value for money prospective. The truck giant studiously reworked the platform and aggregates to offer the best possible for the Indian market.

Also Read: Bharatbenz 2823C 6×4 Construction Tipper – Test Drive Report

Although the Axor range did not embrace Euro 6 and hence discontinued in Europe, the platform still holds sway in the evolution of DICV and its upcoming future. Every truck market is different, and no one-size-fits-all approach can work, unlike passenger cars. For Indian market, the reign of mid-premium ‘value’ trucks, the category in which BharatBenz had a head start, is to prevail for decades to come. I distinctly remember what Daimler’s then CV boss Wolfgang Bernhard said when the India-specific marque was being introduced – “An Actros might be the best truck on earth, but a BharatBenz is the right truck for the Indian market”. He sure was right, BharatBenz is simply “Bharat ka Benz”.

*An edited version of this article was first published in the December 2018 edition of MotorIndia Magazine.

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Editorial consultant (Automotive and Technology), academic, and blogger based in India. He can be reached at

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