The Avenger's launch will be followed by the company's foray into retailing through branded boutique stores for its premium motorcycles.

Sudha Menon

Pune, May 23

THE Bajaj Auto Chairman, Mr Rahul Bajaj, will get a brand new motorcycle as his birthday gift next month.

The company has commenced production of its much-awaited cruiser, the Avenger, which will be launched by Mr Bajaj on his birthday on June 10.

The Avenger's launch will be followed by the company's foray into retailing through Bajaj Probiking, branded boutique stores for its premium motorcycles.

The BAL Managing Director, Mr Rajiv Bajaj, told Business Line, "The Chairman will flag off the Avenger from our Chakan plant on June 10 and the bike will be available in showrooms from the next day."

The Avenger is a sibling to the company's top-end Eliminator model (now phased out) but will roll into the market fitted with the Pulsar's 180 cc DTS-I engine and a reworked frame designed to give it a better drive. And, unlike the Eliminator, which had a Rs 90,000-price tag, the Avenger will cost a more affordable Rs 60,000. "We hope to sell 3,000 units of the bike from August this year," Mr Bajaj said.

"The idea is to get into high-performance bikes in the premium segment, which is where the margins are," Mr Bajaj said. Meanwhile, come July, motorcycle lovers wanting to acquire some hot wheels can head to the Bajaj Probiking showroom in their city, according to Mr Bajaj.

The first of the specialised stores is coming up in Pune and the company plans to set up 50 such showrooms across major metros and urban centres, beginning with Delhi and Bangalore, in the next couple of years.

The Probiking showrooms are designed to give the customer a complete feel of the product they are buying.

For BAL and the customer, the showroom could be a win-win situation. "Dealer commissions on premium products are very high, there are no discounts and no advertising costs. We would, therefore, ideally like to own these showrooms," Mr Bajaj said. Customers buying at the Probiking showrooms will also be treated to value-adds such as lifetime warranty, on-spot financing, and hassle-free servicing for their vehicles.

The company is also thinking of appointing dealers for some of the Probiking showrooms with the option of the company investing in the space and the dealer managing it.

In cases where the dealer has enough resources, he will invest in the property and manage it too.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 24, 2005)
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