MUMBAI: Italian superbike maker Benelli will continue its focus on the 250-500cc motorcycle segment in India going forward, as it has high growth potential in the overall premium segment, its India Business Head Vikas Jhabakh has said.
Jhabakh also said the company is looking to add three more motorcycles in its portfolio by this year-end along with gradual expansion of the dealership network.
Of these, the Benelli 502C power cruiser, whose pre-bookings commenced recently, is expected to be rolled out this month.
Benelli re-entered the Indian market in 2018 after forging a partnership with Telangana-based Adishwar Auto Ride, a subsidiary of Mahavir Group, for setting a manufacturing facility in Hyderabad. Its India portfolio comprises three bike models — 500-cc TRK502, TRK502X and Leoncino and the 374-cc Imperiale 400.
“We are targeting the 250-500cc segment specifically because we strongly believe that there is a high growth potential in that part of the premium two-wheeler segment,” Jhabakh, who is the managing director of Benelli India, told PTI in an interaction.
He said India has a large base of people who are on 125cc or 150cc two-wheeler currently, and a large part of this is upgrading to above 150cc, he said.
Jhabakh added: “We can stick to something between 250cc and 500cc to this segment because above 500 again becomes too powerful or too much of a jump for most of the people.”
From the pricing point of view also, he said that currently, the 125cc-150cc bikes fall in the Rs 1 lakh-Rs 1.60 lakh bracket. And, here, the next jump is to Rs 2-5 lakh bracket, depending on how comfortable they are with their bike.
“It is quite likely that they will switch to a Rs 8 lakh-Rs 10 lakh bike from this level. So, they tend to upgrade to a bike that falls in the Rs 2 lakh-Rs 5 lakh range. That is the general tendency.
“So, we have identified this 250-500cc and Rs 2 lakh-Rs 5 lakh bracket to be the sweet spot for a lot of upgraders and a lot of ghosts over the next two year,” Jhabakh said.
The market between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 10-12 lakh constitutes the premium motorcycle market, which stands at around 30,000 units annually, he said.
He added: “We are looking to corner 25 per cent of these total volumes in 2022.”
He said market seems to be bouncing back to normal after being hit by the more deadly second wave of COVID-19, which forced many state governments to impose lockdown and severe restrictions. After the opening of the second lockdown, there has been a major push in the premium segment, Jhabakh added.
He said the story has been slightly different during the first lockdown. After the first lockdown, as there was a large shift towards personal vehicles and motorcycles, industry definitely got benefited from that, he stated.
“A lot of people in the 150-200cc category are upgrading to bigger motorcycles, the premium one. They are going 300, 400 and 500cc market. We are seeing quite a change in the lifestyle quotient of the customer,” he said.
Jhabakh said the company has launched four motorcycles following the transition to BSVI from BSIV last April.
He added, “Our intention is to launch more motorcycles in BSVI format. Ideally, these bikes would have been rolled out by now but due to the lockdown, the launches were deferred for a more comfortable environment.”
Of the four bikes in the company’s portfolio, three have been launched in January-March this year alone. And, over the next few months, if things go well and there are no more lockdowns, Benelli India is looking to introduce another 2-3 variants in the market, he said.
He said the company had about 30 dealerships prior to lockdown but despite the situation, it has continued to grow its retail footprint across the country. The company continues to receive a lot of interest from potential partners and from cities where it does not have physical presence right now.
“So, if things continue to improve, we will be adding about two oulets every month, going forward,” he stated.
It set up its 42 second exclusive showroom in Jammu last month.
Jhabakh said the company has expanded the assembling capacity at its plants to 40,000 units per annum, from 7,000 units per annum earlier by setting up new lines, bringing in new machinery to gear up for the future demand.