Japan’s Yamaha Motor Co. will introduce two high-end bikes, the YZF-R1 and MT01, which will each sell for Rs10 lakh or more, in the first week of December in a bid to rev up its brand and boost sales in the world’s second largest two-wheeler market.
The products will cost as much as top-end sedans such as Skoda Ambiente and Honda Civic. Yamaha Motor India Pvt. Ltd will import these models as fully built units from the parent’s Japanese factory and is aiming to sell less than 100 units a year, said a company official who did not wish to be identified ahead of a formal announcement next month.
The Yamaha YZF-R1 sports a 1,000cc engine
Yamaha will introduce its products initially in the larger cities such as Delhi and Mumbai and also unveil a new brand strategy to boost sales even as it readies a line-up of products to cater to the mass market.
The company said it was looking at a slow launch of the bigger bikes as it needs to shore up its service network to meet the demands of these bigger bikes. The company is also investing in building required infrastructure at dealerships, but it wasn’t willing to disclose how much.
Yamaha, which is struggling to turn around its India operations, has said it needs to reclaim its image as a sporty, zippy bike maker in the market. In India, it lost that image as it failed to pump in new models in the marketplace, and rivals such as Hero Honda Motors Ltd, the market leader, and Bajaj Auto Ltd stepped up product offerings.
The YZF-R1, a sports style model powered by a 1,000cc engine (the same capacity as engines powering cars such as the Zen Estilo and WagonR), will be priced at more than Rs10 lakh, the official said. The cruiser style model MT01, which will be powered by a 1.6-litre engine—same capacity as ones that power mid-sized sedans such as the Suzuki SX4—will cost slighty higher. Earlier this year, the government allowed the import of motorcycles with engine capacities over 800cc if they clear Bharat Stage-III emission norms as part of a trade deal with the US, paving the way for the entry of Harley Davidson Inc. Since then, Harley has shelved its plans citing high import duties.
But others such as Honda and Suzuki Motor Co. have said they plan to sell their premium bikes in the country. Imports of fully built passenger vehicles attract an effective duty of 103% thus doubling the cost of owning a unit in India.
In the eight months to November, Yamaha’s sales in India fell 54% to 67,569 units in a weak two-wheeler market. India’s six-and-a-half-million-a-year motorcycle market is dominated by fuel-efficient motorcycles with an engine capacity of 100cc; these are the nation’s main mode of transport and eight out of every 10 motorcycles sold in the country are commuter bikes.
Eicher Motor Ltd’s Royal Enfield division, which makes the Bullet, is the only maker of motorcycles with engine capacities of 350cc and 500cc. Its six models are priced at more than Rs70,000 and the company sells around 32,000 motorcycles every year.