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Bajaj to expand in overseas market


Automobile major Bajaj Auto (BAL) today said it is trying to expand footprint into overseas markets by launching motorcycles with its Japanese partner Kawasaki, with an aim to be leaders in the two-wheeler segment, similar to their position in the Philippines.

"We both are actively discussing to take it [two-wheeler expansion] to other markets. Discussions about this are going on," BAL Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj told reporters at the launch of the Kawasaki Ninja 650R bike here.

He, however, declined to disclose the target nations, saying "It would be premature to name any country now."

"As far as Indian market is concerned, we will continue to bring more bikes with Kawasaki," he said.

The company, however, has no plans for the next three months to open new showrooms in the country, Bajaj said.

BAL and Kawasaki have an agreement to sell the probikes in India, Nepal and Bhutan. However, the Indian auto major is yet to open a dealership facility in Bhutan.

On the company's plans to set up facilities in other markets, he said Kawasaki and Bajaj share their facilities in order to remove any "duplicity of investment or efforts" since both firms would profit from that strategy.

The Ninja 650R has been priced at Rs 4.57 lakh (ex-showroom). The on-road price would be below Rs 5 lakh. BAL already has three other bikes -- Pulsor 220, Avenger 220 and Ninja 250 R -- in the probiking category.

On the reason to launch 650R in India, Kawasaki Motors Managing Director (Designate) Yoshiro Segawa, said, "Many customers had expectations for a new product. The purpose of Ninja 650R is to establish the presence of the Kawasaki brand as a premium sports model in India."

Bajaj said the previous model, Ninja 250R, has sold 1,500 bikes so far, and hopes to be a market leader in the premium biking segment. He did not divulge any specific sales target for the latest product.

"We have tried very hard to reduce our cost and as a result, we are launching it at this price," he said, adding, Kawasaki was ensuring quality despite the "lower" value of the new model.

BAL said they had to pay 30% duties as the engine is not assembled in India, but added it will not pass on the burden to the customers for the Ninja 250R and had already taken into account the custom duties while pricing the 650R.

The company also said the "substantial disruption" caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan had created supply-chain problems.

"The waiting period for 250R is 60-70 days because of the tsunami [creating supply-chain problems]. We are expecting that in two months' time the vendors will be back to normal and the waiting period comes down," BAL President (New Products) Eric Vas said.

On the production capacity to roll out the Ninja 650R, Vas said the assembling kit had just arrived and the company has assembled 10 bikes so far. It is currently producing 35-40 Ninja 250R bikes a month.

BAL said launching the KTM model is next on the agenda but did not give any timeframe.