BMW plans to launch bikes in India

Almost 13 years after its abortive attempt to enter the Indian market through a joint venture with the Hero Group, German luxury carmaker BMW is planning another foray into the country’s small high-end motorcycle market.

The company is studying India’s high-end and premium motorcycle market to introduce its Motorrad range of super bikes in India, said a top BMW India official. “Our people from BMW Motorcycle are having a look at the market.

They are also in discussion with us for feedback on the matter. As soon as we see potential for a viable market entry for sustainable growth, we would take that into consideration,” said Peter Kronschnabl, president, BMW India. The bikes of the Motorrad range will cost more than Rs. 1 million (US$ 20,704) in India, said another BMW India official.

The premium bike market in India is very small – less than 500 units a year – but both in terms of growth prospects as well as branding opportunity, it is an attractive segment. Although its earlier outing in India was not successful – BMW launched its F650 model in collaboration with Hero but the venture did not take off – this time round the German company may be able to sell more bikes.

Auto analysts say the presence of top superbike models such as the Suzuki Hayabusa or the Honda 1000RR Fireblade and CBR 1000R and Yamaha’s MT01 and R1 has grown the market and increased the appetite for Rs. 1 million-plus bikes. Bajaj is also planning to introduce big bikes from KTM and Kawasaki stables in the near future.

BMW officials, however, clarified that the plans are not for the short-term and it could take 1-2 years before anything is finalised. BMW Motorrad is a brand used by the German company for its motorcycles, which are in production since 1923.

BMW Motorrad’s G series, F series, R series and K series are available around the world. These bikes range from 450 cc capacity to 1300 cc capacity and are designed for off road, sport and touring purposes.

Although the total market for high-end bikes is still very small, the consumer interest in motorcycles as a lifestyle product is picking up. Suzuki, for instance, sold 93 bikes in the last six months alone while Yamaha sold 94 units of the R1 and MT 01 in the January-December 2008 period.