Bajaj Auto is looking at launching new entry-level bikes as well as higher-end sports-oriented bikes in a bid to have both ends of the market covered. The Pune-based two-wheeler manufacturer plans to launch a new range of low-cost, entry-level bikes which would not be branded as ‘Bajaj’ machines. Instead, the company will develop a new brand name for these low cost bikes.
This new range of low-cost bikes will, in all likelihood, be developed with inexpensive components sourced from China. With engines of 100-150cc and Chinese-built components, these bikes will also benefit from the ‘Nano effect,’ which is in-house engineering developments geared towards keeping costs low.
Expect to see the Kawasaki Ninja 250R in India by mid-2009
While the low-cost bikes are one end of the spectrum, Bajaj is also working on the other end. The company is expected to launch its first true sportsbike – the Kawasaki Ninja 250R – by May/June this year. Powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, parallel-twin that produces about 30 horsepower, this bike will be imported to India as a CBU and will be priced at around Rs 2.25-2.50 lakh, ex-showroom.
With the Kawasaki Ninja 250R, Bajaj will be targeting customers who want to upgrade from bikes like the Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi, Hero Honda Karizma, Yamaha YZF-R15 or Hyosung Comet GT250, but who can’t afford bikes like the Yamaha R1 or Suzuki Hayabusa, which are priced at around Rs 12 lakh.
Bajaj Auto is also developing entry-level sportsbikes with Austrian bikes manufacturer, KTM. Bajaj, which has a more than 25% stake in KTM (which it intends to increase to over 30% over the next few months…), will launch Bajaj-KTM co-developed machines in 2010 and these may be built at Bajaj’s facility at Chakan, near Pune.
Bajaj will also import some of KTM’s bigger sportsbikes to India, probably as CKD kits, which would be assembled at Chakan. These bikes are likely to be launched in India by end-2009.