Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto told CNBC-TV18 and moneycontrol.com today that his new VS400 will head into the same space that is currently dominated by Royal Enfield's motorcycles in India. He further revealed that the VS400 was ready to go but the company chose to put the launch back to ensure that the focus on festive season volumes was not disrupted by the arrival of a new product. He said the delayed launch afforded Bajaj Auto time to ensure that the new motorcycle is absolutely ready for the market.
Royal Enfield's swelling sales volumes and profitability are not lost on the rest of the two-wheeler market and BAL is the first of the auto manufacturers to enter the same displacement space as Royal Enfield. The company already has the KTM 390 Duke and the KTM RC 390 in the same zone but both offer a dramatically different, polarising perspective on motorcycling compared to the Chennai-based manufacturer's motorcycles.
Rajiv Bajaj also confirmed, more or less, that the VS400 would not wear Pulsar branding. This is not a surprise given that the Pulsar brand has come to stand for sporty performance at an attractive price. Bajaj has already tasted success with the V, another product where Bajaj ventured out with a new brand with a clear definition.
Bajaj has always maintained that you cannot compete against the market leader with products that resemble or target the same proposition as the market leader's. Re-iterating this, Rajiv Bajaj clarified that the VS400 would offer a very different proposition. He said, "Of the 55,000 people that buy Enfield, whether we will get 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000, I do not know, but I appeal to Siddhartha through brotherhood advertisement, brotherhood is about caring being sharing. I hope he will share with me."
In the same interview, Rajiv Bajaj also revealed that the next few months would bring the new 2017 range of Pulsars with revised styling and significant improvements in performance.
In other Bajaj news, the company gained 5-6 per cent market share in India over the last year with the V and the new Avengers both being received well. The company expects to grow from 1.8-1.9 lakh units a month to about 2.2-2.3 lakh units a month banking on its new launches. That said, Rajiv also highlighted that volatile situation in Nigeria where Bajaj has lost significant sales. Despite the export challenges, though, Rajiv Bajaj said this year is looking better than last year and he is optimistic about BAL sales and that the two-wheeler industroy should see positive growth this year.
For more stories from OVERDRIVE on the new Bajaj VS400, click here