Small town buyers add to superbike sales, says Benelli India’s Vikas Jhabakh

Along with the hardcore riders, people have also started looking at superbikes for casual riding. Better income levels, improved standard of living of people from tier 2 cities, fuelled this demand.

Published: 08th October 2019 08:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th October 2019 08:55 AM   |  A+A-

Vikas Jhabakh, Director, Mahavir Group

Vikas Jhabakh, Director, Mahavir Group

Express News Service

Adishwar Auto Ride India, a partner of Mahavir Group, which is the exclusive partner for Benelli bikes in India distributes premium products across the country.

The company manufactures and imports a range of Benelli bikes from Italy and south-east Asia regions and has set up an assembly plant for Benelli in Hyderabad, tells Vikas Jhabakh, Director, Mahavir Group to Sunitha Natti in an interview. Excerpts:

When did the company start operations? What was the genesis of venturing into this niche space?

Benelli entered India back in 2014. However, in 2018 there was a change in management, wherein we (Mahavir Group) took over as the Indian partner for the Italian brand.

The genesis of entering the niche space was the changing dynamics of the super biking space and the shift in the Indian lifestyle and approach towards two-wheelers as not just a necessity to travel from A to B. In a way, super biking has also become not just a hobby but a respectable hobby for a lot of people and we are seeing a lot of growth coming in that space.

Along with the hardcore riders out there, people have also started looking at superbikes for casual riding.

Better income levels and improved standard of living of customers from tier 2 cities, fuelled this demand.

This too makes for a huge scope for growth going forward. We launched a new model — Benelli Leoncino 250 last week and have started bookings for another upcoming model — Imperiale 400, which is a retro — Classic motorcycle.

So currently, there are about seven models that we retail, while Imperiale 400 will be launched this month.

What makes Benelli bikes unique?

Elegant, as well as sporting, Benelli motorcycles are created to meet the requirements of every rider, even of the most demanding, and ensure the ultimate riding experience and comfort.

This is a challenge Benelli faces every day as the first aim of the whole group. A Benelli motorcycle is recognised for its engaging design and the distinctive sporty look.

In 2005, Benelli became part of Q J Group. Globally, Benelli has two super modern factories one in Pesaro Italy that manufactures 800cc and above superbikes and other in Wenling that entails in mass production up to 800cc bikes.

The production capacity in these factories reaches to 12 lakh vehicles per year and has about 14,000 employees working in the facilities.

With Benelli’s association with QJ group, the historic brand from Pesaro broadened its horizon to the world. With the synergy between Italy and China, Benelli QJ aims to relaunch Benelli across global markets.

The key growth hurdles you foresee in the Indian market?

One hurdle seen is availability of credit at retail level. We need to have a financial system in place where credit is made available in an easier way to a young and fast-growing population.

Secondly, we need to have clearly defined norms from the government, on the ecosystem for the 2-wheeler industry, specifically electric and superbikes.

In terms of road infrastructure, if the government could also improve the road conditions in non-metro, that is tier 2 and tier 3 cities, then it shall help the customer base there to experience super bikes, the way they are meant to.

What are the growth opportunities in India vs other emerging markets?

The changing dynamics of the super biking space and growing income levels are two important factors that drive the two-wheeler market.

The fact that India is the world’s largest two-wheeler consumer makes for a strong case of how it stands out compared to any other emerging markets.

Your investment so far? Any fresh investments in the pipeline?

We have invested around Rs 40-50 crore. Fresh investment will be planned as per the expansion required to match the growth.

Do you have a production/assembly line in India? What’s the capacity and any expansion in the pipeline?

Benelli India has an assembly line in Hyderabad, which spreads across three acres. For now, the company has enough manpower to produce 7,000 bikes in a single shift, which will suffice the upcoming demand as well.

Will you consider sourcing local components?

We have already began sourcing local components. In fact, the upcoming Imperiale 400 has undergone heavy localisation, without compromising on the quality standards set by Benelli.

In terms of tax structure —rebates and concessions — is it encouraging for consumers?

When we look at the tax structure, luxury cars and bikes sit in the most-heavily taxed bracket.

So, if there are rebates and concessions, it will help any industry to bring down the prices and offer these benefits to the customer, encouraging them to go ahead and own their dream machines.


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