At a time when the two-wheeler segment is getting rapidly electrified, market leaders such as Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor Company are in advanced stages of rolling out premium motorcycles being built under partnership with European and US brands.
Bajaj Auto, the country’s third-largest two-wheeler maker, is gearing up to launch its maiden motorcycle built under partnership with UK’s Triumph Motorcycle during this calendar year. The first product, which was to be launched in 2022, ran into delays due to the pandemic. With the supply chain getting eased substantially, both companies are now in favour of making the debut.
Bajaj and Triumph had signed an agreement in January 2020 to develop and produce mid-capacity motorcycles in India having engines between 250cc and 750cc. These Triumph-branded bikes are expected to challenge the dominance of Royal Enfield, which commanded a share of 85% of the segment till November, data shared by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) showed.
The Pune-based company will also renew the entire portfolio of its Austrian partner brands, KTM and Husqvarna, before the end of FY24.
After returning to showrooms after its abrupt decision to discontinue sales and manufacturing in India more than two years ago, US heavyweight Harley-Davidson and domestic two-wheeler market leader Hero MotoCorp are looking to launch their first joint product that could see a debut in FY24.
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This middleweight bike under the Harley-Davidson brand, which will be manufactured at Hero’s plant, will be yet another attempt by Hero MotoCorp at cracking the premium motorcycle segment that has failed to generate the desired results for the Delhi-based company in the past.
Chennai-based TVS Motor Company will tap into two different bike brands for improving its premium play. Norton, a British motorcycle brand which TVS bought in 2020, is preparing to launch one of its first products under the Indian management. While the Norton motorcycle is currently targeted at developed markets of the West, it will gradually make its way into India.
The second leg of TVS’s strategy involves the rollout of bikes developed by it under the BMW partnership. Through this launch, the company will make its mark for being the lead designer and developer of the platform that will spawn premium motorcycles for BMW and TVS. The BMW bikes may be launched in the next financial year.
“The pull towards the premium motorcycle segment is due to the market demand for such products which has outpaced the growth of the broader two-wheeler market besides being a margin driver,” a Mumbai-based analyst said.
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The motorcycle segment having engines above 200cc but below 800cc clocked a growth of 47% during the April-November period, selling 561,230 units against 381,402 in the same period last year, according to the Siam data.
While working on premium bikes, each of the three legacy two-wheeler brands are also simultaneously expanding their electric vehicle (EV) play to fend off competition from strong startup companies like Ola Electric, Ampere and Ather Energy.
While Bajaj Auto will launch one new electric two-wheeler every year, Hero MotoCorp will look to rapidly scale up the reach for its electric scooters. After adding more choices to its only electric scooter, TVS is now looking to have a wider range of electric two-wheelers, including electric motorcycles.