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BMW motorcycles nearly here


After capturing a fourth of the domestic luxury car market, German automobile maker BMW says it is in the final stages of deciding on launching its premium motorcycle range in the country.

The company has been doing a study, checking market response to possible launch of its bikes, if priced on par with the current range of Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Harley Davidson and Ducati premium bikes.

“It’s pretty evident the company is interested in getting the bikes here. We are actively looking into it. We will be able to take a decision on the same before the end of the year, may be in a few weeks,” said BMW India’s president, Andreas Schaaf.

If it decides to go ahead, it will be a re-entry for the brand in India after more than 15 years. BMW had then tied up with the Delhi-based Hero Group (which has Hero Honda under its fold) to sell the F650 in the country. However, the arrangement was short-lived after the bike received timid response from the market, as it was tagged ‘too expensive’. BMW had to shut imports, with some units selling for about half the original selling price.

If launched, BMW will bring its bikes, which could be priced upwards of Rs 9 lakh each, in fully built forms, imported directly from Germany. The company may review its strategy later and could switch to local assembly if the demand supports its supply.

The Indian premium (fully imported bikes) two-wheeler market is relatively small in size when compared to some developed countries. However, companies use such premium bikes to push or support their other group brands.

BMW India, which had to hastily increase production capacity at its Chennai factory by 80 per cent to support demand for its cars, says the presence of BMW-branded bikes would bolster the group’s brand.

“There is no risk exposure as such (whether the bikes would succeed or not). It would be done with a long-term perspective. The launch will certainly help the reputation of the BMW brand,” added Schaaf.

The India premium bike market is a little more than 500 units yearly, with the presence of a number of international players. India Yamaha Motor, subsidiary of the Japanese two-wheeler giant, says the segment in growing in the high double-digits.

While Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Harley Davidson and Ducati are importing their bikes into the country, KTM and Kawasaki have local assembly plans, with the infrastructural support provided by partner Bajaj Auto.