With the launch of this vehicle the Pune-based company will be in a league of international bike makers that manufacture quality superbikes for the global market.
Although Bajaj Auto currently makes the Pulsar 220, an indigenously produced powerful performance bike, the company lacks the brand appeal and technology expertise to trump established players like Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki, among others.
The KTM-Bajaj alliance is developing a versatile motorcycle platform that would cater to the entry-level street bike segment from 125cc to more than 250cc. This platform is crucial as bikes built on it would be exported to most important global markets.
The 125cc bikes are slated to hit the international market by the end of this year and in India by next year. The expected launch of the 250cc plus variants will be in 2013, said an official. “These products are being jointly built by Bajaj and KTM for both the Indian and the world market.”
Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto, confirmed in an email response that both companies are working on high-capacity bikes, that would be eventually launched after the introduction of the initial line of smaller engined bikes.
The bikes will be manufactured at Bajaj’s Chakan plant, near Pune.
Although the entry-level bikes (with 125cc engine) might appear low on engine capacity and power output, performance is expected to be better than other products available in the market.
According to sources, the products would be priced in the range of Rs 2.3-2.4 lakh in the European market. However, the Indian market price is yet to be determined.
The 250cc plus variants will help Bajaj Auto to add value to its brand in a segment dominated by the Japanese and European players. Although the premium bike segment is relatively small in India, with volumes of less than 5 per cent, it is growing at a favourable rate. Internationally, demand for such bikes at an affordable price is quite high, say market experts.
When asked, whether the high performance bikes will make Bajaj Auto the first Indian company to make sports bikes, Bajaj said, “Yes, although I would insist that our Pulsar and Discover (brands) have already proved that point for they sell at a price premium to equivalent Japanese competition.”
KTM is one of the leading manufacturers of superbikes and all-terrain vehicles in the world where Bajaj Auto holds 31.92 per cent stake. The promoter’s hold little under 51 per cent in the company. Rajiv Bajaj is on the supervisory board of KTM.
The first 125cc bike named ‘Stunt’ will be launched in little over a year in India followed by another bike named ‘Race’ which will share the same engine but will have a different style.