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Thursday, Aug 29, 2002

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Bajaj gearing up for `rural bike' launch

Sudha Menon

Mr R.L. Ravichandran

PUNE, Aug. 28

TWO-WHEELER manufacturer Bajaj Auto Ltd has developed a bike that will meet the utility and aspirational needs of the youth in semi-urban and rural India and be easy on their pockets too.

The 100 cc bike, which is being test-marketed in pockets of Maharashtra now, will have as its USP a price tag that will be under Rs 30,000, making BAL the only company to sell a motorcycle under that price level, its Vice- President, Business Development and Marketing, Mr R.L. Ravichandran, told Business Line.

The as yet unchristened bike, code-named model CBM, was a hundred per cent team effort of Bajaj's R&D department and would fill an existing gap in the market, Mr Ravichandran said.

The existing motorcycles were either too expensive for the targeted audience or did not fit their commuting needs, he opined.

"The new bike will be stylish and not too big for their needs offering riding comfort, decent pick-up and a mileage of over 75km/litre on roads; it will be targeted at rural youth who want a bike but don't want to settle for a second-hand one,'' he said.

The company, which already has the Boxer which earlier partly targeted the semi-urban market, will initially launch the bike only in Maharashtra and take a call on rolling it out nationally depending on the response from the market, according to Mr Ravichandran.

The bike will be launched in the State next month.

Meanwhile, work on partner Kawasaki's global bike project, is picking up pace at the company's facilities, with the final stage of product testing on the 130 cc, four- stroke bike now on, according to Mr Ravichandran. He said the bike would be launched in the last quarter of the current fiscal.

The global bike project, incidentally, is almost entirely BAL's baby with Kawasaki providing the design and the former handling the planning and implementation, including vendor development, production and marketing.

BAL was currently setting up an engine R&D centre which will develop advanced four-stroke engines meeting global benchmarks, Mr Ravichandran said.

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