Benelli, the oldest Italian superbike manufacturer (since 1911) and now owned by the Chinese Qianjiang Motorcycle Co, had entered India in 2016, but it isn’t yet a household name and sells just one motorcycle model in the country. Vikas Jhabakh, managing director, Benelli India, says that’s going to change soon with the company launching 5-6 bikes in 2021 and sourcing more content from Indian suppliers. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that the focus area for the company will be the 250cc to 750cc motorcycle segment.
Why Benelli is still not a household name in India?
Benelli entered India in 2016. In 2017, there was a halt of operations for about eight months. Sales properly restarted in 2019. In that sense, Benelli is less than a two-year-old company; post the lockdown, we are picking up.
How many motorcycles do you sell now?
Right now we sell just the Imperiale 400, our retro-classic offering. We launched it in August 2019. By March this year we had secured about 4,000 bookings, and we delivered most of these. We reintroduced the Imperiale 400 in BS6 format in August this year.
What are your dealer expansion plans like?
We have about 34 dealers right now, and 8-10 dealers in the pipeline; we should have about 40 dealers by the end of December 2020.
What is your product launch pipeline like?
In 2021, we will have 5-6 different bikes and variants, so it means every two months there will be a new product in our showrooms. All the bikes are assembled in India, at our Hyderabad facility; we are also increasing our local content.
Why is Benelli India taking a long time to introduce BS6 motorcycles (other than the Imperiale 400)? Have you faced any problems in terms of importing the needed components because the company is now owned by the Chinese?
It’s been a tough year; the lockdown pushed all plans by 3-4 months. Globally, markets opened up in different months and in varying stages. This resulted in a major disruption in the supply chain. Moreover, there have been large delays in transit time of sea transport due to container shortages across major ports. These are some reasons BS6 launches scheduled for Q3-2020 (FY) got pushed by a few months.
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