Bajaj Auto has just announced its grand entry into the retro-motorcycle market with a new partnership with 118-year-old British brand Triumph.
The two companies will jointly develop and market retro-look motorcycles in the Indian market at prices less than Rs 2 lakh — the bread and butter segment for Royal Enfield and Jawa.
Until about two years ago, the retro motorcycle market was more or less a single brand affair, with Royal Enfield soaking up nearly 90% of the market.
It didn’t take long for the market, which was doubling every three years or so, to attract the attention of other auto-majors in India, including Mahindra & Mahindra and Bajaj Auto.
It also saw the entry of foreign brands such as Harley Davidson, Indian and Triump, but these companies had limited success as their products are typically priced above Rs 4 lakh. However, the ‘sweet spot’ for retro motorcycles in India is Rs 1.3-2.2 lakh.
However, this is a price segment that cannot be addressed by the likes of Harley Davidson, who manufacture their bikes abroad and then import it, either in a fully assembled form or in a completely knocked down form. Either way, the high taxes and duties on imported vehicles ensured that these bikes would be priced in the Rs 4 lakh and above bracket, posing no threat to Royal Enfield and Mahindra’s Jawa.
The current line-up of Triumph bikes in India, for example, are all priced above Rs 8 lakh.
It is perhaps with this in mind that Bajaj Auto and Triumph have decided to pool their resources together and come up with bikes that are both affordable as well as stylish and elegant.
“The partnership will build a new engine and vehicle platform in the mid-capacity range (200-750cc) and offer multiple options to address different segments in this class,” Bajaj Auto said.
“The proposition will be aspirational and affordable with a targeted pricing starting under INR 2 lacs in India.”
What is interesting is that the two companies are not just focused on the India market.
Bajaj Auto will leverage its global distribution network to push these bikes in foreign markets such as Africa, where the Indian company has a strong network and brand presence.
Even in places like Europe, where Triumph has its own network and an established brand, these newly created bikes will be sold alongside the existing, pricier models by the British company.
“This will create a new entry point to the Triumph range around the world, and ensure Triumph can compete in important large segments of the global motorcycle market, and attract new customers to the brand,” Bajaj Auto said.
Triumph Motorcycles CEO Nick Bloor said the new tie-up will help his company address new markets such as South East Asia, besides India.
“This is an important partnership for Triumph and I am delighted that it has now formally commenced,” he said.
“As well as taking our brand into crucial new territories, the products that will come out of the partnership will also help attract a younger, but still discerning, customer audience and is another step in our ambitions to expand globally, particularly in the fast-growing markets of South East Asia, but also driving growth in more mature territories like Europe.”
Bajaj Auto has previously worked with European bike maker KTM, even though that involved the Indian company taking a stake in the European company. In this case, no investment will be done by either party in the other’s equity. It also used to have a tie-up with Japan’s Kawasaki.
Established in 1902, Triumph Motorcycles celebrated 117 years of motorcycle manufacture in 2019. It is based in Hinckley, Leicestershire.
The company builds over 60,000 bikes per year, while Bajaj Auto builds around 300,000 two-wheelers per month. It exports 15 million vehicles every year, most of them two-wheelers.
Triumph has around 650 dealers across the world and subsidiaries in North America, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Sweden (Scandinavia), Benelux, Brazil, India, Thailand, and China.
Some of its models are Rocket R and GT, Thruxton RS and Scrambler, Speed Triple, Tiger, Bonneville, Street Twin and A2.