On Friday, the American super-premium motorcycle brand, Indian Motorcycle, launched the new 2022 Chief line-up in India. Powered by the Thunderstroke 1890cc engine, prices of this range begin at Rs 20.75 lakh, ex-showroom.
Indian Motorcycle, clearly, is the niche of the niche, even as far as premium motorcycles are concerned.
In 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, no new Indian motorcycles could be shipped to India.
Lalit Sharma, country manager, Polaris India (the parent company), told FE that the company did not get Euro 5 motorcycles (equivalent to BS6) from the plant in the US in 2020.
“The first motorcycles we received were only early this year,” he said. “The pandemic has definitely impacted the brotherhood at some level.”
The company is now organising regional rides at dealer levels, to engage existing riders and to get some new riders/customers to the fold.
At the same time, the company’s existing dealers were not negatively impacted in a major way because they were able to retail in pre-owned bikes as also the Polaris off-road vehicles, Sharma added.
Indian motorcycles are manufactured only at one place in the world, the Spirit Lake factory in Iowa, US.
It’s over a hundred-year-old brand, and in 1921 Indian Motorcycle had unveiled the Chief, touted to be one of the most historic and influential motorcycles of all time.
While the entire global range is now available in India, over the last many years only about 500 units of Indian Motorcycle units have been sold in India. “The ideal customer of Indian Motorcycle is a 28-55 year old person, who uses the motorcycle for recreational purposes, is very passionate about the brand, and expects an extremely premium experience that even perhaps the most premium brands cannot provide,” Sharma said. “That is why we have a relatively small motorcycle parc in India, of a little over 500 units as of now.”
The Indian Motorcycle range is available in New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Kochi.
The company’s Polaris range of off-road vehicles is getting popular in India. Sharma said that in addition to sales, Polaris is big on experiential events. It has close to 100 Polaris Experience Zones (PEZ) across the country where enthusiasts come and pay for driving these vehicles. He added that defence, municipalities, coastal security, etc, are Polaris India’s major consumers.
While globally Polaris offers more than 100 off-road vehicles, in India it has some very specialised products, and the popular ones are its ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) called the Phoenix 200, Sportsman Touring 570 and RZR Turbo. Even Polaris vehicles are not manufactured locally, but are imported from the US. Sharma told FE that the company feels local manufacturing is an opportunity, “but we need a certain amount of volume to justify local manufacturing.”
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