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Bajaj Auto to roll out more bikes

November 24, 2009 09:35 IST

Bajaj AutoAfter hitting a trough last year when its two-wheeler sales recorded the biggest fall in the industry, Pune-based two-wheeler major Bajaj Auto is looking to launch more products in the market in the near term in the entry and premium class.

The entry segment (100cc) which Bajaj Auto, India's second biggest two-wheeler manufacturer had reportedly abandoned more than two years earlier, claiming segment shrinkage coupled with wafer-thin margins, will see more launches in the immediate future.

Its return of focus to the entry level segment is based on the recent success of the Discover model (where the company sold 100,000 units in 50 days), that is strapped with a less than 100cc engine but has a body of a bigger bike.

S Sridhar, chief executive officer (2-wheelers), said: "Once we complete the strategy of the Discover, then there is more we can do in the segment. We can further explore it. However, that is not the priority now. But as far the question of launching more products in the economy segment goes, then, yes, we will do that."

Similarly, the company is at the same time working on bigger bikes aimed at strengthening its presence in the premium market (150cc and above), where it has a share of almost 70 per cent, with the Pulsar brand.

"Our strategy is towards bigger and sportier bikes. We have plans (for the segment) which can be done at the appropriate time. We have to make (the bikes) affordable rather than focusing on just power. Subsequent bikes will get launched in this segment," added Sridhar.

The company was on a overdrive three years earlier, when it launched the Pulsar 220 and Pulsar 200 in quick succession, aimed at complementing the relatively smaller siblings, Pulsar 180 and Pulsar 150. Thereafter, however, no new launches have happened in the space above the Pulsar 220.

"We have moved customers from 150cc to 220cc. Most of our Pulsar 220 buyers are customers who have bought a Bajaj product earlier," Sridhar further stated.

The company is hoping to sell a million units per annum of the Pulsar range, which currently includes 150cc, 180cc and 220cc by the end of next financial year. Bajaj focused on the mid-market (125cc-135cc) about two years earlier after the segment reported a favourable rise in demand.

It launched a number of products such as XCD 125, Platina 125, Discover 135 and XCD 135 in the segment, targeting customers of the entry level.

However, with rivals such as Japanese major Yamaha and Suzuki, as well as Indian heavyweight Hero Honda posting double-digit increases in demand for their range of premium bikes, experts say Bajaj is forced to bring out products in the premium segment to keep customer interest alive.

Its sales in the last financial year declined by 22.4 per cent to 1.4 million units, while the industry recorded a growth of 2.6 per cent, with market leader Hero Honda reporting a growth of 12 per cent at 3.64 million units.

Swaraj Baggonkar in Mumbai
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