Shirish Kulkarni, director of DSK HYOSUNG, is a motorcyclist at heart. Having started off riding a CBR 600 in college and then progressing on to an 1800, he now does what every thoroughbred motorcyclist can only dream of doing - owning his own motorcycle manufacturing company.
We had a free wheeling chat with him earlier today and here's what he had to say. Take it away then, Shirish!
BSM: What's the update on the production plant that you had spoken about some time ago?
SK: The plans for the plant are on schedule. We have closed in on the location and it's a place called Lonand which is about 77 km away from Pune. The place boasts of good infrastructure and we intend to set up our facilities over about 100 acres of land. The implementation of this plan will be staggered, but construction on the first section should commence between December this year to January of next year. We intend to start production at the plant by 2013-2014.
BSM: Which motorcycles can we expect to be launched by DSK HYOSUNG in the coming future?
SK: We intend to launch the GV650 and the GV250 as soon as possible. These two bikes are our next priority launches.
BSM: Nothing in the smaller displacement segments in the future, then?
SK: Well, we have many plans for the long term. We intend to see ourselves as a mainstay motorcycle manufacturer in the future. We are in talks with Hyosung to produce a 150cc motorcycle by the end of 2014. By then, our network should have gone up to 75 dealers in all. By the end of 2015, we should be producing 125cc motorcycles as well. Both these motors will be single cylinders developed only for India. In fact, we are currently evaluating whether we could develop these engines in India itself with Hyosung's inputs. Depending on where the market takes us, we might also produce scooters. But if we do, we see ourselves manufacturing scooters in the 100 to 125cc segment only by 2016-2017.
BSM: How are you marketing your brand differently as compared to the rest of the manufacturers who are mainly seen in the Tier 1 to Tier 2 cities.
SK: We are percolating our brand even in Tier 3 cities. The North East will get more DSK Hyosung dealers. Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Nagpur, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Vijaywada and places around Chennai will have our dealerships very shortly. Kerala will have more of our dealers set up. This year is all about network expansion for us. We intend to have close to 30 dealers by March 2013.
BSM: What about exports? Are you looking towards catering to the international markets with your upcoming plant?
SK: Yes, we are very much interested in catering to the export market. In fact, we had talks with Hyosung with regard to manufacturing engines here in India for overseas markets and they have given us a positive reply. With regard to complete motorcycles, we might do this, but we will only manufacturer certain models. After all, Hyosung also has their Korean plant to manufacture out of. I cannot tell you when any of this will happen, but it is on the cards.