The alliance between Bajaj Auto Ltd and Triumph Motorcycles Ltd will sell mid-capacity bikes only under the Triumph brand in India, top executives of the British bike maker said in an interview. Apart from providing key inputs pertaining to the design, Bajaj will also be responsible for sales and marketing initiatives across the Indian market, they added.
“It will be a Triumph-branded motorcycle all through and, therefore, it will be part of the Triumph range in India. They will be sold through Triumph dealerships in India," said Paul Stroud, chief commercial officer, Triumph Motorcycles.
In August 2017, the two companies had announced a partnership to develop and manufacture mid-sized (250cc to 800cc) motorcycles to cater to the aspirations of young riders in India and other emerging markets. However, the two companies are yet to sign a formal agreement.
Bajaj is contributing with critical inputs on engine specifications and motorcycle categories, and once the prototypes are finalized for India, the models will be streamlined into Bajaj’s production system. The homegrown company is also planning to set up an assembly line to manufacture the motorcycles. Stroud said Triumph has worked on a few early prototypes.
“We are very pleased with how the bikes are looking," said Steve Sargent, chief product officer, Triumph, suggesting that the formal agreement may be signed by the end of December.
Even Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj, who had travelled to Triumph’s UK facility last month, liked and approved the prototypes," Sargent added.
Apart from sharing revenue and consolidating its portfolio in India and overseas, it is not clear what more Bajaj Auto expects to gain from the joint venture. For the proposed JV, Triumph has developed an all-new engine platform, which will power several variants with different displacements within the 250-750cc categories.
As of FY19, the mid-capacity motorcycle market in India witnessed sales of 833,300 units, with Royal Enfield commanding a market share of around 97%. The growth of mid-sized motorcycles in India is indicative of the aspirations of the youth, who wish to upgrade from smaller variants (100cc-150cc). “The motorcycles will be manufactured by Bajaj even for markets where Triumph sells them," Sargent said.
Betting on Bajaj Auto’s economies of large-scale manufacturing, Triumph officials aim to pitch the motorcycles against category majors such as Royal Enfield, Harley-Davidson, KTM, BMW Motorrad and TVS Motor Co.
“Bajaj have the economies of scale to manufacture the products at a price that can compete in India and the subcontinent. That also means the product can be competitive in other emerging markets," Sargent added.
Bajaj, which is India’s largest exporter of motorcycles, has a similar JV with Austrian partner KTM AG, wherein the Indian company manufactures the Duke and RC motorcycles (up to 400cc) at its Chakan facility, while KTM sells the products under its brand.