Interview: Benelli and Hyosung India boss Shirish Kulkarni has bike launches lined up till early 2017
DSK Benelli had a promising stand at the 2016 Auto Expo. At one-end of the stage was a still-amazing Tornado. It looks a little large today in our age of diminutive sportsbikes, but it's a landmark machine. Center stage were four machines, the TRK 502 from the EICMA show in Milan, the Benelli BX250 motard, the cheeky TNT 135 and the Tornado 302, which also debuted at the EICMA show in Milan. The rest of the space was given over to DSK-Benelli's fairly large range of motorcycles. When we spoke to Shirish Kulkarni who heads DSK-Benelli, and DSK-Hyosung, he pointed out - surprise - that almost everything on stage was set for an Indian launch.
OVERDRIVE: ABS roll out plan?
Shirish Kulkarni: We are working towards getting ABS on all the models. We will start with the 600s this April. From July onwards for the 300s - both the variants, the TNT 300, the Tornado 300 and the TNT 25. The TNT 25 will get ABS around September. The entirely new 1130 will come next year, that's when the other models will get ABS as well.
OVERDRIVE: You said July is a big month for you...
Shirish Kulkarni: First and foremost, we are launching the fully faired 300. Two months later we will launch the TRK 502. The 135 and the 250 Motard we have no confirmed dates but somewhere around November are the dates we are exploring.
OVERDRIVE: What about the Leoncino?
Personally, I'd like to get it here this year itself. But looking at the international demand it is likely that the Leoncino will get pushed to first quarter next year. But we are trying to get it as soon as we can.
OVERDRIVE: Dealer expansion plans?
Shirish Kulkarni: Currently we have got 16 dealers. This year by December we intend to be at at least 35. Our target is about 40 but we will surely have 35 outlets. 2017 we will add a bit more and make it to 50. So in the next 24 months, we want to add about 34 dealers.
Shirish Kulkarni: There are four in the pipeline, three for this year. We are expecting to start with the GV300 in May. The GT300 and the new GT650R that should come out around June or July. The last one, the 450cc, maybe towards the end of the year, or next year. But Hyosung also has four models coming in the next 18 months.
OVERDRIVE: That's a lot of launches!
Shirish Kulkarni: Too many things to do! It's exciting and it's a bit tiring as well.
OVERDRIVE: We hope to see the Motard and the mini bike...
Shirish Kulkarni: Let's see. For the Motard and the mini bike, it's a niche market today, but it is a very interesting space. Because the way the market is going to develop, I think these will change the perception of motorcycles in India. Now people will start understanding how to differentiate between models. These two, I think, will show the way.
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