Sudha Menon

Pune, Dec 12

BAJAJ Auto Ltd (BAL) is getting ready to take on its nearest competition in the country's increasingly crowded motorcycle market. Come February and the company will launch a new bike in the value segment of the motorcycle, which, along with the recently launched Discover bike, is expected to give it an additional seven per cent share in the domestic market, taking its total share to 38 per cent.

The company is also all set to revamp its scooter business and is ready with a new line up of scooters that will be rolled out in 2006.

"Of the four new two-wheelers we will showcase at the auto expo, two are new scooters," Mr Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, told Business Line.

The company's motorcycles business, meanwhile, is getting ready to steam ahead.

"By March, we expect our motorcycles sales to touch two lakh units every month from the current level of 1,65,000. Increasing the market share by seven per cent is not easy but we are implementing a number of initiatives to make it happen."

BAL recently separated its channels of distribution for the motorcycles business with Probiking stations for the premium bikes and separate dealerships for the rural and urban markets.

"The approach to selling has to be different in the rural areas and by March we will appoint 10 new dealers in rural places with an equal number to follow in the next few months," he said.

BAL is also expanding its motorcycle capacities from the current two lakh units to 2,50,000 units.

The company is also currently involved in a joint R&D effort for a new bike that will be developed with partner Kawasaki, to be manufactured at its hi-tech Chakan plant.

"It will be much bigger than the 180 cc bikes and will bring in the super bike technology to India. It will take two years to develop," Mr Bajaj said. "We are expecting that once the motorcycle takes shape, Kawasaki will want to source it from us for their global markets."

Industry watchers maintain that with BAL now getting aggressive to gain market share, there will be a shakeout in the market within the smaller players, who together contribute an estimated one lakh units of the total motorcycles business.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 13, 2005)
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