Companies

LML plans a comeback with four models

Roudra Bhattacharya Mumbai | Updated on August 10, 2011

Upshift mode: A file picture of Mr Deepak Singhania, Managing Director, LML, at the launch of Freedom-brand bikes in New Delhi. The company plans to revive the brand. — Photo: Kamal Narang   -  Business Line

To launch country's first 200cc geared scooter





Two-wheeler maker LML, bogged down in financial troubles for a few years, is planning to make a comeback by launching four models in the domestic market within this fiscal.

In a few months, the Kanpur-headquartered company will launch India's first 200cc geared scooter, followed by a 125cc gearless scooter. The latter will be pitted against models such as Suzuki's Access 125 and Mahindra 2 Wheelers' Duro, Rodeo and Flyte.

LML also plans to revive its Freedom brand of motorbikes with the launch of mass-market-targeted 100cc and 125cc models by the end of 2011.

“We took a sabbatical for a few years after running into some trouble in 2006,” Mr P.S. Chowdhury, Head, Sales and Marketing at LML, told Business Line. “We restarted exports subsequently and are now coming out with four new products in the country. For this, we have our own in-house design and technology.”

One of the models has an export focus. “The 200cc model has already been launched as a variant in the Star range for the export market. At home, this will be a lifestyle product for a niche market — a multi-utility two-wheeler for those looking for more lugging power. We're also looking to bring back the Freedom brand by year-end,” Mr Chowdhury said.

At present, LML's sales are limited to two 150cc scooters, Select and NV, in the North.

While domestic sales average at 2,800 units a month, the company exports a larger share of 5,000 units, including 125cc scooters, to markets such as the US, Europe and Africa. The company has two plants in Kanpur, of which one is operational with capacity of 7,000 units a month.

The BSE-listed firm, one of the pioneers in the Indian scooter market along with Bajaj Auto in the 1980s, got into financial trouble due to mounting debts and labour unrest over the past two decades. The company had approached the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction in 2006. LML has since downsized operations and infused fresh funds.

The Auto Practice Leader at PwC, Mr Abdul Majeed, said LML will have tough competition.

“The market is growing, so their success depends on what products they bring in to bounce back. They have the experience, but it is not going to be easy as much has changed in the last few years. They will have to compete with the best-in-class products from players such as Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. A revival may take some time,” said Mr Majeed.

In its previous avatar, LML had popular scooter brands including the Vespa range, produced under an erstwhile collaboration with Italy's Piaggio, Select, Star, Supremo and Prithvi. It sold premium motorbikes under Adreno and Energy brands, though its Freedom range of mass-segment bikes were more successful.

> roudra.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 18, 2011

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