Bajaj Avenger Photo: Zigwheels
Two-wheeler companies have not paid much attention to the cruiser motorcycle buyer, with the exception of Bajaj Auto.
That might change at some point of time in the future, with the market leader in scooters not ruling out a possible entry into the segment to rival the Bajaj Avenger, India’s only sub-Rs 1 lakh cruiser. Pune-based Bajaj Auto, the country’s third largest two-wheeler maker, recently gave the Avenger a new lease of life. This was followed by a rousing response from buyers.
The company, which introduced three new models under the decade-old Avenger brand in September last year, saw average sales of 12,500 units a month in the first quarter of this financial year, shows data collected by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. That is a three-fold rise from 3,400 a month of the earlier model. At Rs 73,000 and Rs 83,000 (ex-showroom, Maharashtra) the 150cc and 220cc engine-powered Bajaj Avenger is priced at nearly half of what its nearest rival is.
This growth has been noticed by Bajaj's rivals, especially Japanese two-wheeler giant Honda. Asked if the latter intends to enter the cruiser segment, Yadvinder Singh Guleria, senior vice-president for sales & marketing at Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI), said: “We are always on the lookout for entering new segments but it has to be done in a phased manner. One by one, we will look at new segments.” HMSI had 58 per cent of the scooter segment, by Siam data, led by its gearless two-wheeler, the Activa. However, the company’s share in the motorcycle segment is slightly under 15 per cent, despite having more products than scooters.
HMSI has 11 motorcycles on offer including the Unicorn, CBR and Shine, and five automatic scooter models. The motorcycles, from 110cc to 250cc, made up just under 36 per cent of its total volumes at the end of June. Entering the cruiser segment will allow the company to address a larger market. At present the sub-Rs 1 lakh cruiser bike segment is around 150,000 units a year while the segment above it is nearly 600,000 units a year.
Further, Honda’s parent company in Japan has rich experience in building cruisers for the global market. It has eight such motorcycles, including the Gold Wing Valkyrie, one of the world's most popular in this segment. The biggest of these is a six-cylinder 1,800cc; the smallest is a twin-cylinder 235cc. “The cruiser segment has emerged as a very important one but there is no immediate plan to enter that. We have a lot of other things to look at right now, one of which is production capacity,” added Guleria.
The cruiser segment itself is getting expanded. Bajaj Auto is looking at larger motorcycles in that segment which could rival those of Royal Enfield, the biggest seller of cruiser/touring bikes. Royal Enfield makes in-demand bikes under the Classic, Bullet, Thunderbird and Himalayan brands.
The near vacuum in the cruiser segment has led to the entry of a somewhat unknown entity. America-based UM Motorcycle entered India a few months earlier with the Renegade Commando and Renegade Sports S, with prices starting at Rs 1.49 lakh.
PEERLESS PLAYER Domestic two-wheeler companies have not paid much attention to the cruiser bike buyers, with the exception of Bajaj Auto
Bajaj Auto recently gave the Avenger a new lease of life
The company, which introduced three new models under the Avenger brand in September last year, saw average sales of 12,500 units
Avenger’s sales jumped three times, from 3,400 a month of the earlier model
At Rs 73,000 and Rs 83,000, the 150cc and 220cc Bajaj Avenger is priced at nearly half compared to its rivals
At present, cruiser bikes below 1 lakh segment is 150,000 units a year while the segment above it is nearly 600,000 units a year.
Honda's parent company in Japan has experience in building cruiser bikes for the global market
It has eight cruiser bikes including the Gold Wing Valkyrie, one of world's most popular cruisers