Rajiv Bajaj believes the Husqvarna brand is a big step forward in his company’s endeavour to become the world’s best producer of motorcycles.
“And by that, I mean the best when it comes to areas like technology, profitability, customer satisfaction etc,” the Managing Director of Bajaj Auto told Business Line .
On Thursday, BMW Motorrad made known that it was selling Husqvarna to Stefan Pierer’s Pierer Industries. He is also the CEO of KTM in which Bajaj Auto has a 47 per cent stake.
Husqvarna, with its roots in Sweden, has been in the motorcycle business for over a century. It was sold to Cagiva of Italy in 1987 before BMW snapped it up two decades later.
As the company now gears up for its new journey with KTM, it marks the coming together of two off-road bike specialists who will have a larger share of the market in Europe. “Like KTM, Husqvarna is a popular and aspirational brand for off-road bikes,” Bajaj says.
Both Husqvarna and KTM will retain their brand identities at the front-end which includes marketing and distribution while synergies will come into play at the back-end. It is here that Bajaj Auto will offer a manufacturing base which assures the best in processes, costs and quality.
This is already being done for KTM bikes. To that extent, it may not be entirely inconceivable to have ‘Huskies’ shipped out from the Chakan plant near Pune to the rest of the world in the coming years.
Interestingly, this buyout goes in line with the premise that marketing is counter-intuitive. Here, KTM has defended its top slot in off-road bikes by ‘attacking’ itself with Husqvarna. Likewise, in Bajaj Auto’s case, the Discover is constantly ‘attacking’ the Pulsar and, in the process, pushing it to excel.
From the Indian company’s point of view, the more significant takeaway is that it is right on track to becoming a specialist bike maker.
“The strategy for a specialist has to be very narrow and deep while for a generalist, it is wide and shallow,” Bajaj says.
This, he often reiterates, was the reason why the company opted to focus on bikes and exit the scooter business. It was not the easiest of decisions but had to be done to ensure growth in the long run.
Bajaj has always maintained that his company’s production of motorcycles is barely 10 per cent of the world’s output which clearly means that the sky is the limit.
It is here that brands like KTM and Husqvarna will play a critical role in taking this global vision forward.
At the other end of the spectrum, Kawasaki, its decades-old ally, continues to play a big role in Asean and Latin America which are important bike markets.
“Today, there is greater clarity of thought, passion and strategy. All these are helping us to push the envelope further in our vision to be the best in bikes globally,” Bajaj says.