Bajaj Auto is preparing to launch more motorcycles from the ‘V’ platform through this fiscal and the next as part of a plan to grow market share in the executive commuter space.
“From April 2016 to March 2018, the biggest focus for us is to leverage this platform we created so that we can get a very healthy share of the commuter market,” says Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director.
While the V15 debuted in end-March, the plan is to launch more products to make the most of the momentum generated so far.
“The second will come sometime around November which will hopefully be an equal or bigger success than V15. Then I will give it another six months, which means the third will be out around May-June 2017,” says Bajaj.
The executive commuter space has been eluding the company for a while now and the ‘V’ platform initiative has been projected as the solution to fill the void.
While total bike sales in this category are in the range of six lakh units each month, Bajaj Auto’s share is just 40,000 units. This is in sharp contrast to its domineering position in the entry and premium segments.
Admitting that this embarrassing tally is a “shame”, its MD is now hopeful that the ‘V’ will do the trick in turning the tide around.
The big players in this segment are Hero’s Splendor, Passion, Glamour and Super Splendor along with the Honda Shine.
In turn, the most expensive are the disc brake versions of the Glamour and Shine whose ex-showroom prices are closer to ₹59,000.
Interestingly, with a price tag of ₹62,000, the newcomer V15 has come in at the highest price point. “I am an outlier right now but people are buying since I am the differentiator. Tomorrow, I will go closer to the prevailing price points and hopefully gain,” says Bajaj.
Promising feedback The market feedback to the V15 has been promising so far which has given the company enough confidence to step on the gas and get moving.
As he puts it, the first three months of ownership become important from the viewpoint of how buyers feel and what people around them have to say.
“From what I hear, they have been raving about the V15 which has instilled enormous curiosity all around. Word-of-mouth is still happening and it will take until October to stabilise the product,” says Bajaj.
This puts in context the timetable planned for the other launches from the same platform.
“Timing becomes subjective and we go about by measuring word-of-mouth. Once we find that there is enough in terms of awareness, we ask people if they have heard of the bike and their views on its performance/appearance,” he says. If the basics are understood and appreciated, it means the brand is rooted in the marketplace and new launches can follow.
“We can either be too quick or too late but launching it prematurely confuses the market, especially when the V15 is just beginning to settle down,” says Bajaj.
While the mood is distinctly upbeat within the company, he adds that it is not for him to judge or predict numbers since rivals like Hero and Honda “are not going to be sitting ducks” and will pull out all stops to retain their market share.
Yet, Bajaj believes the ‘V’ will be a game changer in the commuter space. “We are going to redefine the middle-of-the-market and make up the opportunity we lost with Discover. I don’t think there is any scooter or any motorcycle of any manufacturer that has the volume promise that ‘V’ holds for the next two years,” he declares.