Bajaj and KTM sent out a joint press release earlier today announcing that the two companies, headed by Rajiv Bajaj and Stefan Pierer, respectively, had agreed to take Pierer's other motorcycle brand, Husqvarna, worldwide. Bajaj officials have just told OVERDRIVE that this is confirmation of the fact that the Husqvarna motorcycles will not only be made in Chakan but that the Husqvarna 401 series of bikes will also be sold in India. S Ravikumar, president - business development and assurances, Bajaj Auto Limited, told OVERDRIVE, "Husqvarna will go global and that means it will go on sale in India as well. It is, however, too early to talk about positioning, pricing and other details."
The press release says that the decision has now been made between KTM and Bajaj Auto to push Husqvarna towards the global market. The Bajaj and KTM arrangement is celebrating 10 years of great success this year. The first new Husqvarnas that arrived after Stefan Pierer purchased the company from BMW Motorrad last year are the 701 and more recently the two 401s. There is an off-road range also, but that isn't the focus of this story.
The Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen and Vitpilen (black and white arrow, respectively) are based on the KTM 390 Duke platform. As you know, the KTM 390 Duke is made only at Bajaj Auto's plant in Chakan.
At the moment, all three motorcycles - the 701 Supermoto, the 401 Svartpilen and the 401 Vitpilen - will be made at the KTM Mattighofen, Austria facility.
But in 2018, the production of the 401 models will shift to Chakan near Pune. OVERDRIVE now has confirmation that the motorcycles will be made for the Indian as well as global markets, just like the KTM Duke models are.
While pricing and positioning isn't confirmed, we had earlier made a case for the Husqvarnas to be positioned at a premium to the KTM models in India and be sold out of the well spread-out KTM India distribution network.
The Husqvarna 701 Supermoto is a relatively simple motorcycle in design and it stands out because of it. Under the skin is a lightweight steel trellis with a plastic subframe that supports rider weight as well as works as the fuel tank. WP suspension rounds out the package. The engine is a 690cc single making 66.6PS. The powertrain includes a slipper clutch. The bike gets Bosch 9M+ ABS including a Supermoto mode.
The Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen is, in effect, a neo-retro cafe racer based on the same platform as the KTM 390 Duke. The Husqvarna gets a completely new bodywork and instruments as well as spoked wheels, a different subframe as well as new hardware for mounting the pegs. The engine is expected to be the same 375cc single as the new KTM 390 Duke, but it would likely be in a different state of tune or have significant gearing changes.
The Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen is also based on the same platform as the 401 Vitpilen. It also shares very similar bodywork with the Vitpilen. But the exhaust layout, tyres and handlebars mark it out as more of a street-scrambler with an upright riding position. Again, Husqvarna has not confirmed what mechanical changes will be made to the Svartpilen versus either the Vitpilen or the KTM 390 Duke.
Unfortunately, Bajaj Auto also confirmed that it still has no plans to enter the CBU or CKD motorcycle market with KTM or Husqvarna models. Bajaj maintains that the bigger displacement motorcycle market has to grow further to ensure commercial viability. It expects to review its position on the CBU and CKD opportunity once the market has grown large enough.
In sum, KTM and Bajaj Auto will push sales of the Husqvarna models with focus on the 701 Supermoto and the 401s Vit- and Svartpilen for the global market. We're part of the agenda with the production of the 401s shifting to India next year. Bajaj Auto has confirmed to OVERDRIVE that the brand will enter India next year with the 401 models, but more details on that are yet to be revealed. Unfortunately, the CBU and CKD operation still remains off the radar for Bajaj Auto. The company says it will enter when the market is big enough and it isn't big enough yet.