Eyeing opportunity in the 250-800cc segment, Italian two-wheeler maker Benelli will launch 5 bikes in the India this year and expand its reach in up to 35 cities. The motorcycle-maker, which is in its second innings in India with a new partner in Hyderabad-based Mahavir Group, may set up a manufacturing plant too.
Vikas Jhabakh, managing director of Benelli India said that the firm strongly feels that the mid-weight motorcycle category will continue to grow fast and given their expertise and R&D strengths, they can make a strong impact.
“We anticipate this segment to grow at 20-25 per cent year-on-year. We want to grow faster than the industry,” Jhabakh said, adding that the company has already launched two bikes in the same segment and will be launching two more this year. The fifth bike in the India pipeline has not been confirmed yet.
While at present Benelli ships in its models under as completely knocked down (CKD) units, it might consider setting up a local manufacturing plant in the future. “We are exploring the idea of setting up a manufacturing facility, location of which is not finalised yet. Benelli will directly participate in it,” Jhabakh said.
Beside driving in new bikes, the other key focus area will be to expand its reach in the domestic market. “The primary goal for us is to build a strong network across the country and connect with customers. We will be having up to 40 dealership networks across 30-35 cities by the end of this year,” the managing director added.
Having originally launched operations in 2014, the firm pointed out that it presently has around 6,000 owners across the country. In the ongoing year (CY2019), they plan to sell another 2,000 units.
Queried on how Benelli will differentiate its products from those of well established competitors, Jhabakh said unique design and their ability to make quality bikes at affordable prices was a key differentiator.
“Our recently launched TRK 502 is a 500cc bike but has a great road presence. It has no direct competition with other bikes. Soon, we will be launching a scrambler bike in the 500 cc segment which again has no competition in the given price range. The only competition it will have is Ducati’s Scramblers, but again they are priced around `10 lakh,” he said.
The TRK 502 is priced at `5 lakh and the adventure-ready TRK 502X comes at `5.4 lakh.
While the company has ambitious plans to make a mark in the fast growing domestic market, it faces tough competition from a host of existing and upcoming players. Homegrown automaker Royal Enfield continues to dominate the mid-weight segment and newcomers like the revamped Jawa have made a significant impact.