|Bajaj Auto, the country’s third largest two-wheeler manufacturer, will launch a series of products over the next 12 months with the aim of not only regaining market share in the very competitive motorcycle segment but to push it higher.|
In addition to launching new motorcycles under its premier Pulsar and Discover brands, the Pune-based company will revive its neglected entry-level brand, Platina.
According to Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, two launches are planned until March, followed by a ‘siginficant’ launch in the first half of next year. These new models are aimed to pushing Bajaj’s share to 30 per cent next year, more than double its July market share of under 15 per cent.
Multiple launches and a sustained push has enabled the country’s two biggest two-wheeler companies, Hero MotoCorp and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), to scale up their market share. For instance, in less than three years, HMSI has more than doubled its share in the motorcycle segment (see table).
With muted response for the Discover 100 and the Pulsar 135, and subsequent realignment of inventory, Bajaj Auto’s market share dipped to 14.55 per cent this July, lowest in several years. However, with introduction of the Discover 150 in August, the company, which has stayed away from the burgeoning scooter segment, hit 20 per cent market share last month.
“During the July-August period, where our market share was at 15 per cent, we had to reduce the billing of older Discovers. Already with one launch, there is a huge recovery in market share. I believe the days of 15 per cent market share are really over. It will come back to 23 per cent by the end of March and over the next financial year, be about 30 per cent,” said Rajiv Bajaj.
The company’s major launches next year will be under the Discover, with another one planned in the 125cc segment. This is the second biggest motorcycle segment, generating sales of around two million bikes a year. Honda’s CB Shine is market leader here, with a share of 43 per cent.
Bajaj agrees that stretching the Discover brand across three motorcycle segments (100cc to 150cc) has taken a toll on it. Discover started in 125cc in 2004 and saw additions of 110cc, 135cc and 100cc over the years. However, buyers have taken to the new Discover 150, also the cheapest 150cc to own. Bajaj has promoted this new Discover as a commuter motorcycle, with a combination of low cost and high mileage.
“We have two significant launches in the Pulsar and Platina segment. Together, they will yield two per cent market share. In the first half of this year, we had a significant launch of Discover (150cc). We will (now) implement it downwards in 100-125cc. This will bring us to 25-26 per cent market share in the first half of next year. Then, in the second half, I would like to go to 30 per cent, for which we have to do something remarkable. It is a marketing move, not some great technology change. There is an opportunity to create something big,” said Bajaj.
Once a struggling brand, Platina, a no-frills 100cc bike, has seen a steadily rise in volumes. While domestic two-wheeler volumes declined 12 per cent for Bajaj in the first half of this year, Platina sales grew 16 per cent in the period. Platina competes with the Hero HF Dawn, Yamaha YBR 110, TVS Max 4R and Mahindra Pantero (now discontinued).