Amid slowing market, Bajaj Auto aims to do a KTM with the Husqvarna

Bajaj Auto is aiming to cement its position in the premium segment with the launch of the Husqvarna Motorcycle brand amid slowing sales in the broader motorcycle market.


Like KTM Motorcycle, the Pune-based firm is expecting the 103-year-old Swedish brand to create a segment in the motorcycle market and become a volume spinner in its niche portfolio of motorcycles created over the past decade, said a top official. 


“Over the medium term — in three years from now — we expect Husqvarna to become as big a brand as KTM is today,” said Sumeet Narang, president, Probiking business unit at Bajaj Auto.  The unit manages company’s premium motorcycle vertical. 


Husqvarna Motorcycle is part of the KTM AG group, in which Bajaj Auto owns a 48 per cent stake. On Friday, Bajaj Auto unveiled the Vitpilen 250 and Svartpilen 250 models from Husqvarna’s stable. 


KTM’s India volumes have grown by over 35 per cent in the first seven months of this financial year. This is at a time when the overall two-wheeler market has been on slippery ground. It skidded 16 per cent to 11.45 million units over the same period a year ago, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam)


The Husqvarna models will go on sale from February next year and retailed through 500 Probiking outlets. Narang’s immediate focus will be to establish the brand. The twin models address the needs of those seeking practicality as well as those looking for performance, he said.  


For Husqvarna, which has identified India as a strategic market for its range of street bikes, the entry here is a ticket to overtake Triumph and Ducati as the third-largest European brand in the world, said Federico Valentini, global marketing head at Husqvarna.   


“Currently, as a European brand KTM is the largest and BMW the second-largest, followed by the Ducati and Triumph. Our ambition is to be the third largest European brand. The entry into India and expansion into Latin America and Southeast Asia in that sense is strategic,” he said.  Husqvarna sold a record 48,555 units last year. Of these, 30,000 were racing-motorcycles and the rest were street bikes. In India, Husqvarna is looking to tap into the white space between the sports and cruiser segments of the motorcycle market in India, said Valentini.