Expanding horizons: Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp enter premium bike business with iconic brands
While the overall motorcycle market grew by 15%, the premium segment led by Royal Enfield grew 31%
India's leading mass two-wheeler manufacturers, Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAL) and Hero MotoCorp, have ventured into the competitive premium motorcycle market with the launch of Triumph and Harley-Davidson, respectively. This move comes at a time when the middleweight segment, often considered "premium" in India, has experienced substantial growth, despite overall two-wheeler sales remaining lacklustre.
Hero MotoCorp, which has recently faced mediocre sales numbers, is seeking new avenues for growth in the evolving market. Simultaneously, the overall two-wheeler market has shown tepid growth. However, the middleweight or premium segment has been witnessing remarkable expansion. In the previous financial year, while the overall motorcycle market grew by 15 per cent, the premium segment experienced exponential growth, exemplified by Royal Enfield's phenomenal success.
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Royal Enfield, the Chennai-based manufacturer, has announced record-breaking sales figures for the April-June quarter of the current financial year. According to a report in The Print, the company sold 207,171 motorcycles during this period, marking a remarkable 31 per cent growth compared to the same period last year.
The success of Royal Enfield can be attributed to its adeptness at catering to both higher and lower segments simultaneously. With products like the affordable Hunter 350, priced below Rs 1.5 lakh, Royal Enfield has made its motorcycles more accessible to a wider range of consumers. Additionally, the Interceptor 650, priced above Rs 3 lakh, has gained significant traction in the higher segment.
Against this backdrop of dynamic market trends, observers point out to how Bajaj Auto and Hero MotoCorp have strategically introduced Triumph and Harley-Davidson motorcycles to tap into the growing demand for premium two-wheelers in India. The Harley-Davidson X440, a result of the collaboration between Hero MotoCorp and Harley-Davidson, aims to make a mark in the 440cc segment. Meanwhile, Bajaj Auto has revealed the pricing for the Triumph Speed 400, further expanding its product portfolio in the premium segment.
The unveiling ceremony took place at the Hero Center for Innovation and Technology (CIT), with Pawan Munjal, Chairman of Hero MotoCorp, and Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President, and CEO of Harley-Davidson, in attendance on Wednesday. With the motorcycle market undergoing transformations and consumer preferences evolving, manufacturers are adapting to capture a larger market share. The middleweight or premium segment, in particular, presents a significant growth opportunity. As more players enter this space, the competition is set to intensify, ultimately benefiting consumers with a wider range of options in the premium motorcycle market.
The motorcycle, which represents Hero's entry into the 440cc segment will be manufactured at Hero MotoCorp's Garden Factory in Neemrana, Rajasthan. It will be available in three variants - Denim, Vivid, and S - through Harley-Davidson's nationwide dealer network. The pricing for the variants is set at Rs 2.29 lakh (Denim), Rs 2.49 lakh (Vivid), and Rs 2.69 lakh (S).
Hero MotoCorp highlighted the X440's all-new 440cc oil-cooled, long-stroke BSVI (OBD II) and E20-compliant engine, a first for the company. With a power output of 27 bhp and maximum torque of 38NM, the motorcycle boasts a remarkably flat torque curve, delivering 90 per cent of its peak torque as low as 2000rpm. Notable features include an assist and slipper clutch for precise control and a 6-speed transmission with optimized gearing for both highway cruising and city commuting.
Simultaneously, Bajaj Auto has revealed the pricing for the Triumph Speed 400 at 233,000 rupees ($2,834). However, the company has not disclosed the price for the Scrambler 400X. As part of their partnership, Bajaj Auto will handle the production and distribution of these motorcycles. Currently, Triumph operates 15 dealerships across India.
Pre-booking for the Triumph Speed 400 commenced online last month, following its world premiere in London. Customers were able to reserve the motorcycle by making a fully refundable payment of Rs 2,000. Manufactured in Hinckley, United Kingdom, the Speed 400 comes with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty and a 16,000 km service interval.
The motorcycle will be available in three captivating colours: Carnival Red with Phantom Black, Capsian Blue with Storm Grey, and Phantom Black with Storm Grey. Following the highly anticipated launch event, Bajaj Auto's shares experienced a surge of approximately 5.19 per cent, reaching Rs 4,865 apiece on the Bombay Stock Exchange.