Mumbai: India Kawasaki Motors, the local arm of Kawasaki Motor Co., aims to double its sales in the country next year, with plans to launch at least three new motorcycles with engine displacement of 250cc or greater, Shigeto Nishikawa, deputy managing director, said in a phone interview from Pune on Tuesday.

The Japanese motorcycle maker sells super bikes (1,000cc and above) and performance bikes (250cc and above) in India.

The local arm of the company imports the super bikes from Japan directly and assembles the performance bikes at its plant in Akurdi near Pune and sells these through Bajaj Auto Ltd’s Probiking showrooms.

“We sold 1,000 units of the middle range motorcycles (250cc and above) in 2013 and plan to double the sales next year," said Nishikawa, adding he expects the market for such motorcycles to expand by 15-20% year on year (y-o-y).

Kawasaki plans to add at least three new models in the segment, said Nishikawa, but declined to give details. Growth for superbikes will be faster at 30% y-o-y, although on a smaller base of 500 units per annum, he added.

Kawasaki is looking at cornering 25-30% market share in the superbike segment, said Nishikawa.

Kawasaki launched the Ninja 1000 and Z1000, priced at 12 lakh each, in Pune on Monday, adding to its two-model superbike line-up in the country. It currently sells the Ninja ZX-14R and ZX-10R in the segment, priced at 17 lakh each.

Kawasaki is not the only firm betting big on India for such performance machines. The local arm of Harley Davidson Inc. and Triumph Motorcycles Ltd, the UK-based motorcycle maker, have also identified India as an important market, even as the broader auto market has been sluggish because of the slowing economy and high ownership costs.

Priced upward of 5 lakh, Harley has been aggressive in introducing new models and local assembly for the Indian market.

With the launch of Street 750, the US-based firm now expects to wean buyers away from Royal Enfield, the motorcycle making arm of Eicher Motors Ltd, Anoop Prakash, managing director at Harley India, said in an interview in November.

Iconic British bike maker Triumph Motorcycles launched 10 models in India on 28 November. The cheapest of these, Bonneville, starts at a price of 5.7 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The company aims to sell more than 1,500 bikes by the end of fiscal 2015. It will assemble six of the 10 models at its plant in Manesar in Haryana and import the rest.

Kawasaki, Nishikawa said, is working on increasing local procurement of parts for its middle range of motorcycles, from about 30% now.

Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors, an automotive research and advisory firm specializing in emerging markets, forecast the Indian market for big bikes (250cc and above) will by 2022 see at least a fivefold jump in sales from nearly 112,000 units in 2012. This number is estimated to cross 167,000 units in 2013 and touch 708,000 units in 2022.

Manufacturers like Royal Enfield, along with global brands such as Harley-Davidson and Triumph, will likely reap the rewards of this explosion in demand.
“For long, enthusiast bikers have been deprived of global specification, high-quality machines and the entry of Harley-Davidson, Triumph and many other manufacturers in the market is likely to cater to this pent up demand," said Deepesh Rathore, director at the research firm.

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