Italy’s superbike maker Benelli to set up manufacturing unit in India

By: | Published: March 16, 2019 4:27 AM

Italian iconic superbike maker Benelli will set up a joint venture in association with its current Indian distributor to explore the mass-market two-wheeler segment (100CC-250CC) in a big way.

banelli italy, automobile sector, automobile industry, china, banelli bikesThe Italian superbike maker (now part of China’s QJ Group) will finalise its joint venture agreement with Adishwar Auto Ride India (AARI), the current distributor of Benelli bikes in India

Italian iconic superbike maker Benelli will set up a joint venture in association with its current Indian distributor to explore the mass-market two-wheeler segment (100CC-250CC) in a big way.

The Italian superbike maker (now part of China’s QJ Group) will finalise its joint venture agreement with Adishwar Auto Ride India (AARI), the current distributor of Benelli bikes in India, in the second half of 2019 to set up a manufacturing facility to not only make bikes and scooters in the mass market segment but also to make India as an export hub, said Benelli India managing director Vikas Jhabakh.

In an interview with FE here on Friday, Jhabakh, who is also the director of Adhishwar Auto, said: “Both the partners are in advanced talks to finalise the joint venture agreement and we hope the JV will be finalised in the second half of this year. The agreement will be for setting up a manufacturing facility to make it big in India.”

“While we seek to hold majority stake in the joint venture, the stake size will vary depending upon my partner’s decision on project size. We are looking at states such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, among others, for the possible manufacturing plant and we are looking at anywhere between 50 and 200 acres of land for the same, keeping in mind the future expansion. In Phase I, the joint venture will have a production capacity of 2 to 4 lakh units per annum. However, things including investments will become clear when we formalise the JV agreement,” he pointed out. The company is in talks with parts vendors in Coimabtore, Pune, Noida and Chennai to source locally.

To a specific question, Jhabakh said all the superbikes of 250 CC to 1,000 CC will be sold under Benelli in India. The company will explore bringing its sub-brands such as Keeway and Motovi, to target the 100CC-250CC mass market segment in India. These sub-brands have bikes and scooters in the range of 100CC to 250CC across the globe. Being part of QJ of China, Benelli strongly believes that it can easily tap the Indian mass market potential.

“We will also set up an R&D facility in India along with the JV to design and develop products for India,” he said. The names of the brand/s to be introduced in India will be made known at a later stage, he added.

Responding to a question, he said: “Following a fall-out with DSK group, Benelli selected us to be an Indian distributor in the mid of 2018. Following which, we put up an assembly plant in Hyderabad to assemble Benelli’s super/premium bikes for Indian market. Due to unforeseen circumstances (problem with DSK group), the entire 2018 has gone without any sale of Benelli bikes in India and we are now back in action with the sales effective February 2019.”

According to him, “We don’t look at numbers this year as we need to not only ramp up dealerships but also to spruce up vendor base. We can assemble 10,000 bikes annually at our Hyderabad assembly plant. We may sell over 1,000 bikes in 2019, but we hope to regain our lost momentum in 2020 and eyes sale of 3,000 units. Towards this, we will increase our dealership from 13 to 20 by March 2019 and then to 40 by year-end. By 2020 we expect to have at least 100 dealerships in India.” Till 2017, Benelli had sold over 5,600 bikes in India, he added.

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According to him, currently they have six products and will be launching the 500CC Leonchino soon. In June-July, they will be launching two more superbikes. To take on the likes of Royal Enfield and Jawa, Benelli will launch the 380CC Imperiale by the end of this year in India. This segment has an annual potential of 70,000 to 75,000 units and they hope with this new product, they will be able to expand the segment further.

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