Triumph rides in with variety

U K-based Triumph Motorcycles made its debut in the burgeoning market of premium motorcycles in India last month with 10 models, tagged between Rs 5.7 lakh and Rs 20 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) to challenge the dominance of Harley Davidson in the country.

Currently Harley-Davidson, which has 11 motorcycles on offer, priced between Rs 5.91 lakh and Rs 29 lakh, accounts for three of every four superbikes (with engine capacity of more than 500cc) sold. Triumph has set up a wholly-owned subsidiary and is looking at selling around 500 units within the first six months and 1,000 units in the first year of operations.

Harley Davidson has sold over 4,000 superbikes since it entered in July 2010. Globally, Harley is significantly ahead. Triumph is expecting to close the year (2013) with sales of over 51,000 bikes. Harley's sales hover around 250,000 units annually.

Triumph's entry into the 2,500 unit-strong Indian superbike market comes nearly two years since it showcased its products at the Auto Expo in New Delhi in January 2012.

But the iconic motorcycle maker is not too worried about its delayed entry. Paul Stroud, global director (sales and marketing), Triumph, says the company took time to enter the market as it wanted to formulate an appropriate product strategy. "We wanted to make sure that we entered the market with the right models and right partners. We were also looking at developing back-end support, as well as investing in the assembly facility during the period," Stroud says.

Vimal Sumbly, managing director, Triumph Motorcycles India, explains the product strategy: "Our competitors either have sportsters or cruisers in their portfolio. We have a broader appeal as we have come to India with 10 models and with differentiated offerings in each category - classics (Bonneville), roadsters (Street Triple, Speed Triple), supersports (Daytona), adventurers (Tiger 800) and cruisers (Thunderbird Storm). We will give our customers options to choose from and are confident that we will expand the industry."

Sumbly corroborates his point quoting sales figures of superbikes over the last four years. "In 2008-09, sales of premium motorcycles stood at around 450 units per annum. This has increased to about 3,000 units per year now. The per capita income in India is increasing, customers now have access to varied brands, riding infrastructure has improved. Given all these factors, the market can only grow from here," he adds.

To make Triumph Motorcycles accessible to the value-conscious Indian buyer, the company has set up an assembly facility (in Manesar) close to rival Harley- Davidson's unit (in Bawal) in Haryana.

Six of the 10 models on offer in India will be assembled locally. The more expensive products - cruisers Thunderbird Storm (Rs 13 lakh, ex-showroom, India) and Rocket III Roadster (Rs 20 lakh) and adventure riding bikes Tiger 800 XC (Rs 12 lakh) and Tiger Explorer (Rs 17.9 lakh) - will be imported as completely-built units (CBUs) from Triumph's manufacturing facilities in the UK and Thailand.

Besides Manesar, Triumph has an assembly unit in Brazil, two factories in the UK and three factories in Thailand.

The company has plans to put in place nine dealerships by the end of March next year. "In the first phase, we will commence sales through two dealerships in Hyderabad and Bangalore in December this year. Two more outlets at Delhi and Mumbai would be operational by the end of January. In the second phase, we will add dealerships in Kolkata, Chennai, Pune to have a total of nine sales points," says Sumbly.

To enthuse Triumph owners, the company is planning to hold biking rallies. Harley-Davidson owners, by default, are initiated into the Harley Owners Group (HOGs). Harley organises biking trips twice or thrice a year for members.

Triumph is also developing a 250cc bike for emerging Asian markets for which industry insiders say India could be the first production base. "The motorcycle is expected to be launched in mid-2015. "It is a global product. We have not decided where it will be produced yet. But it is meant for markets in Asia, Latin America and North America. We expect a lot of young riders to come into the brand with the product," Stroud says.

Stroud confirms that the company has purchased land in Karnataka but declined to specify if Triumph would look at establishing a full-fledged manufacturing unit in the country. Harley- Davidson has only recently announced plans to manufacture two products, Street 750 and Street 500, in India. The products would be exported from India largely to markets in Europe and Asia.

Triumph, which employs around 2,000 people globally, is the largest British motorcycle manufacturer and has around 742 dealers across the world.

Stroud says, "India is an exceptionally exciting market for us and the premium motorcycle segment in the country is seeing tremendous growth. This is the right time to establish our foothold here."