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Bajaj Auto keen to ride Discover momentum

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Cruising to meet target of four million bikes and three-wheelers.

Mr S. Sridhar,President (Two-Wheelers), Bajaj Auto, at the launch of the ‘Discover 150.'
Mr S. Sridhar,President (Two-Wheelers), Bajaj Auto, at the launch of the ‘Discover 150.'

Our Bureau

Mumbai, July 7

Bajaj Auto is on course to meeting its target of four million bikes and three-wheelers this fiscal, which is expected to set the pace for its goal of reaching five million units in 2011-12.

By end-September this year, the company hopes to have in place capacity of 3.5 lakh bikes across its plants in Chakan, Waluj and Pantnagar (with some numbers from the Chinese operations of the Boxer meant largely for the African market).

This capacity enhancement will synchronise with output of 1.6 lakh units of the Discover duo.

While the 100cc option is expected to account for 1.1 lakh units in October, the Discover 150 will take up the balance 50,000 units.

This momentum will continue till end-March after which numbers could increase in the following fiscal.

Mr S.Sridhar, President, Two-Wheelers, told Business Line that the Pulsar would be doing ‘comfortably over 1,00,000 units' by October. Capacity of the Platina will, however, be capped at 40,000 units, which is in line with the company's strategy of focusing on the Pulsar and the Discover to grow its motorcycle business. The Platina is basically a product quite unlike its two brand siblings, which ride the premium pricing platform. From Bajaj Auto's point of view, the target of 1.6 lakh units for the Discover in October gives it an opportunity to overtake Hero Honda's Splendor (now doing 1.7 lakh units a month) and emerge the single largest selling brand in the commuter segment.

The company's confidence is based on the fact that sales of the Discover 100, in particular, have been on the rise though it is dearer than the Splendor.

To that extent, it believes that Hero Honda's options in the pricing game will, therefore, be limited, quite unlike 2006-07 when the Platina was part of this script and was sidelined eventually.

The Discover 100 has been on a roll since its launch less than a year ago while the 150cc version has notched up ‘more than the expected numbers' since its recent debut. June saw the Discover twosome post sales of 1.15 lakh units of which the 100cc took up a lion's share of over 90,000 units.

According to Mr Sridhar, with more customers keen on the Discover 150, its sales could only increase in the near future. Whether this will result in the 100cc version ceding some ground in the process remains to be seen.

The Discover success story has been the best piece of news to Bajaj Auto as it has proven the durability of the brand since the time the 125cc version hit the market some years ago. Its premium image positioning ensured a strong place for it in the executive segment where Hero Honda reigns supreme with the Splendor and Passion. “We then took the next giant leap with the Discover 150 and have been overwhelmed by the market's response,” Mr Sridhar said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 8, 2010)
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