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Bajaj to launch KTM, Kawasaki bikes in 18 months

Posted on: January 22, 2009

Pune-based Bajaj Auto is planning to add two international brands — Kawasaki and KTM — to its portfolio and will launch several new
bikes to revive its market share in the next 12-18 months.

The company kick-started its rollout roster with an all-new XCD 135 DTS-Si bike, priced at Rs 45,000 (ex-showroom Delhi) in the fast-growing executive segment. Bajaj Auto will launch sports bike Ninja 250 from technology partner Kawasaki’s stable in May.

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It will introduce a few motorcycles from Austrian firm KTM next year.

It is also jointly developing some bikes with KTM for the Indian market that will hit the road subsequently. Bajaj owns nearly 30% stake in KTM.

“While the Kawasaki Ninja will be introduced as a completely-built unit, we will assemble KTM’s bigger bikes, like the Duke and RR, at our Chakan facility. Their introduction has been delayed a bit. We are also developing two bikes with engine capacity above 125cc with KTM that will hit the market next year,” Bajaj Auto MD Rajiv Bajaj said.

Bajaj, which has witnessed a drastic drop in sales over the past few months, is now banking on new products to regain marketshare. It plans to launch as many as six new two-wheelers in the next nine months.

“We don’t want to be on top in sales. We want to be a niche player and have laid an ambitious plan to launch new products to tap new segments for Bajaj products and gradually increase our sales tally. We will be launching few more products based on the DTS-Si platform for the mass market to achieve monthly sales target of 70,000 units, while the international brands will meet high-end market needs,” Bajaj Auto CEO S Sridhar said.

Mr Bajaj said that the ultra-low-cost car, which it is developing jointly with French major Renault, is on track and will debut, along with the Lite cargo truck that is also under development, in 2011.

“Work on the engine and the gearbox for the car is underway but other work related to the vehicle is yet to be completed,” he added.

Bajaj Auto has been experiencing a rough ride with December sales of only 62,043 units — one of its lowest tallies in the past decade. It has seen sales sliding in the last quarter of 2008. In September, sales dipped by 3% in the domestic market followed by a 50% drop in October and a 53% decline in November.

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