Bajaj Auto will launch its “biggest ever” Pulsar motorcycle by March next year on its way to becoming a “strong number two” player in the premium motorcycle segment, said Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj on Tuesday.
He said the company had plans to introduce upgrades to six of the existing Pulsar models, which fall in the mid-segment range, featuring engines ranging from 125cc to 200cc, all set to be rolled out by March next year.
This means seven Pulsar models will be launched in FY24, comprising six upgrades and the “biggest” model.
“We have plans to launch the biggest Pulsar ever this financial year. Currently the biggest Pulsars — F250 and N250 — have 250cc engines … We want to do it (launch) within this financial year so that the full benefit of that in terms of growth and profitability is available to us next year,” he told a news channel in an interview.
In the premium motorcycle segment (ranging from 200cc to 800cc), Royal Enfield held an 82.43 per cent share in sales volumes during April to August of FY24, based on the data from Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Meanwhile, Bajaj Auto, featuring the Dominar, Husqvarna, Pulsar F250, and Pulsar N250 in its lineup, accounted for around 10.82 per cent of the premium motorcycle market during the same period.
Bajaj did not reveal the capacity of the engine on the biggest Pulsar.
“It is a little too early for that,” he noted. In the premium segment, where the motorcycles are priced at more than Rs 1.7 lakh, Bajaj Auto has sold about 8,000 units a month.
He said the company was readying to double its domestic sales in the premium motorcycle segment to between 15,000 and 20,000 units a month so that it became a “strong number two” player in the market.
To enhance its premium product lineup, the company, in partnership with the renowned British motorcycle brand Triumph, introduced the Triumph Speed 400 and Scrambler 400 X motorcycles in India in July.
The Speed 400 is available for purchase, and the Scrambler 400 X is set to hit the market starting this October.
“Currently, Bajaj’s exports are about 10,000 units per month (in the premium motorcycle segment). With these new Pulsars and new Triumphs, we think we will again take exports to 15,000-20,000 units per month,” Bajaj stated.
Is the company planning to launch a CNG bike? He replied: “As a motorcycle maker, we are always looking at all such technologies. That is a diplomatic answer that I must give you at this time.”
He stated the entry-level motorcycles (100cc engines) continued to be under pressure for the industry but for Bajaj, it was not a “major area of focus”.
He said the consumer who wanted to buy entry-level vehicles was at the bottom of the pyramid and this consumer took the worst hit during the pandemic.
He added probably this consumer was looking at electric two-wheelers instead of buying an entry-level internal combustion engine vehicle.
“I don’t think this consumer is going to come back in the near future,” Bajaj noted, adding that there was a need for “disruptive” action in the entry-level ICE market.
“Maybe a (entry-level) CNG Bajaj motorcycle — which halves people’s running costs — would be the answer with a little help from the government,” he added. He said he had requested the government to reduce goods and services tax on CNG-run bikes to 18 per cent from 28 per cent.
The mid-market for motorcycles comprises motorcycles that run on engines of 125-200 cc. This segment’s motorcycles are priced at Rs 80,000-1.7 lakh.
“Between now and the end of the financial year, over the next six months, our new offers are aimed at enhancing our share in this mid-segment.”