Streetbikes from Bajaj-KTM to be unveiled at Auto Expo 2010

In less than a year, the Indo-Austrian motorcycle alliance of Bajaj Auto and KTM will roll out its first products into the Indian market. The products will be introduced at the biennial Auto Expo in 2010. KTM is a Austrian company that manufactures motorcycles having engines ranging from 50cc to 1,200cc. Pune-based Bajaj Auto, India’s second-largest two-wheeler maker, has 31.72 per cent stake in it.

The two companies have been working on the development of 125cc and 250cc motorcycles following an agreement in November 2007. Both bikes will be powered by liquid-cooled four-stroke engines. KTM plans to showcase these high-performance products at the international bike fair, EICMA, to be held in Milan, Italy, this November, and subsequently at the Auto Expo in New Delhi in January.

Mass production of the two bikes is expected at the Chakan facility of Bajaj Auto near Pune in 2010. Pricing details of the two motorcycles were not available. Market experts expect a premium over competitors. “We will not be able to share the pricing details of the two bikes (Bajaj-KTM bikes) at this moment. Any further guidance relating to the bikes’ design and engineering will be given at the time of the launch next year,” said a senior executive of Bajaj Auto.

Currently, as many as 10 models are sold in the 125cc category, including those of Hero Honda, Yamaha, TVS Motors, Honda, Suzuki and Bajaj Auto. No Indian manufacturer sells bikes in the 250cc segment. Bajaj Auto is revamping its entire product range, sold under the Pulsar brand, with modifications in the exterior body and the engine. The company is also launching a completely new product later this year.

Bajaj and KTM had also planned to launch a few big bikes of KTM, including the 690 Supermoto, street bike 690 Duke, 990 Adventure, 250 EXC-F and the 990 Superduke in India 2008. While some of the bikes will be assembled at Chakan and later sold through Bajaj’s probiking showrooms in key markets across the country, others will be imported.

These models were to be launched during the second half of 2008. However, due to adverse market conditions, the companies postponed the launches. These are now expected to be launched later this year.

The economic slowdown has eaten into the profits of KTM, with the company plunging into the red in the first half of financial year 2008-09. Income from operations dipped 22.6 per cent to £222.9 million, while a loss of £44.4 million was reported in the first six months of the financial year, which began in September. The company had to trim working hours at its factory as a part of optimisation and cost-cutting measures, although there were no lay-offs.

Meanwhile, senior Bajaj officials confirmed that Bajaj Auto had so far utilised Rs. 7 billion (US$ 140 million) out of Rs. 15 billion given to it by holding company Bajaj Holding and Investment (BHIL) as part of the demerger. Bajaj Auto used the funds to buy shares from the open market in the Vienna Stock Exchange-listed KTM. Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto, is now on the board of KTM.

Source: Business Standard