Bajaj's entry into the fast growing 350cc-plus motorcycle market has not worried market leader Royal Enfield.
"When one succeeds in a segment, others try to enter and take a bite. Of course, there will be competition but we are not worried," Siddhartha Lal, managing director and chief executive officer of Eicher (the owner of Royal Enfield) told this newspaper.
Bajaj launched the Dominar, a 373cc premium sports motorcycle, in December at Rs 1.36 lakh. Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, said at the launch that the company was entering a "segment that has an existing tall leader (Enfield)".
"This segment is not open for anyone to simply enter and walk away with the market. One has to be the opposite of what the market leader is," he added.
Listing design, performance and price as three critical factors for any motorcycle, Bajaj said the Dominar would create a differentiation in all three. Delivery of the Dominar started in January, when the company sold 3,000 units. The company hopes to sell 4,000 units in February and then gradually take it up to the stated monthly target of 10,000 units by September.
Lal, whose company sells 48,000 motorcycles a month, including the iconic Bullet, said Enfield had 95 per cent of the 350cc-plus motorcycle market. "It is important for us to grow the size of the market. If others want to grow it, it is good," he adds.
The country has seen the entry of premium global two-wheeler entities Harley-Davidson and Triumph in recent years but their volumes remain tiny as compared to Enfield. Harley sells about 280 units a month; Triumph does 90. Luxury car maker BMW is working on a powerful sports bike with TVS Motor, which could be launched later this year.
The Eicher chief said Enfield offers a typical style of motorcycle which is not for all. "People who like us will come to us. We will continue to work on the brand, retail and marketing. People who are part of the Royal Enfield family continue to stick to the brand. They like what we do after we sell them the motorcycle," he said, referring to the rides and activities around the brand.
Lal said the company was adding about a 100 sales outlets yearly for reaching more and more buyers, especially in tier-III towns. The current store strength is 650. Enfield was among a few two-wheeler makers which continued to grow sales even after currency demonetisation. Its motorcycles have a waiting period of two to three months, with its plants at full capacity. The company is investing to set up another factory that will almost double the annual capacity to 900,000 units by 2018.