KTM AG, the Austrian maker of motorcycles partly owned by Bajaj Auto, plans to launch three new models and a few refreshes of existing ones this financial year.
On Monday, the company, in which Bajaj owns 48 per cent stake, entered the super-bike segment with the Duke 790. Priced at Rs 863,945, the model went on sale from 460 Bajaj Probiking showrooms.
Notwithstanding slowdown in the broader two-wheeler market, Bajaj envisages sales of KTM motorcycles to grow by a third in 2019-20. It sold 50,000 units last year, said Sumeet Narang, president, probiking, at Bajaj Auto. He attributed the expectation to the 125 Duke, which helped KTM “create a strong brand in the entry level of the market”.
Four in every 10 KTMs that Bajaj sells in India is accounted for by the Duke 125. A focus on product and brand experience has helped, he said.
In this backdrop, Bajaj plans to launch three new KTM models and refreshes; Narang wouldn't elaborate further. It also plans to launch the Husqvarna brand later this financial year; these will also be retailed through Probiking showrooms. Bajaj plans to increase the number of such showrooms to 500 by end-March, said Narang.
In line with the broader slowing in the automobile market, two-wheeler sales in India skidded 14.8 per cent in the first six months of the financial year to 8,039,959 units over the year-ago period, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Most segments have been affected but not sales of 125cc motorcycles. Sales of such models that include the KTM Duke 125, Hero Super Splendor, Suzuki Hayate and TVS Victor expanded to 1,152,589 units in the April-August period, first five months of the financial year, from 940,482 in the same period a year before.
Deepesh Rathore, co-founder at Emerging Market Automotive Advisory, said not having a formidable competitor in the performance segment had worked to KTM’s advantage. “They are in their own league.” No other brand has similar levels of brand equity, network and after-sales, he added.
What has also helped is that unlike Yamaha or Suzuki that have spread themselves thin by getting into every segment, including scooters, “KTM is not a confused brand.” This gives confidence to buyers, said Rathore.