Sucheta Dalal :Hamara Bajaj to fade into oblivion
Sucheta Dalal

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Hamara Bajaj to fade into oblivion  

December 9, 2009


Bajaj Auto, once known for its scooters which revolutionised the two-wheeler market in the country, on Wednesday said that it will exit the segment by the end of the fiscal to focus exclusively on motorcycles, reports PTI.


The company that by and large created the scooter market in the country through its popular 'Hamara Bajaj' campaigns in the 1980s and 90s, today sells just one scooter category—the 100-cc gearless ‘Crystal’.


"We will exit the scooter market because we don't see much sense in it. If we are to be a motorcycle specialist, we cannot make scooters,” Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj told reporters in New Delhi at the launch of its 135-cc Pulsar, targeted at the mass-market audience.


"Scooters did not sell according to our expectations. We are making hardly 1,000 scooters a month now and mostly for exports. Now our focus is on motorcycles," he said and added that the company wants to become the largest motorcycle player in the world, without giving any specific time-frame.


"One day, God willing, we will be the largest motorcycle company in the world. If we have to be a motorcycle specialist, we have to make a sacrifice (in the scooter segment)," he added.


According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Bajaj Auto sold only 154 units of its Crystal scooter in November 2009 and exported 104 units. Its total domestic scooter sales during the April-November period were 3,356 units and 728 units overseas.


Mr Bajaj said that the company has a production capacity of 3 million bikes annually. "In the 30-million global bike market, the world's largest bike maker Honda sells 7 million units. We can make 3 million units. We can double it and triple it by just staying in the motorcycle market," he said.


The company today launched its 135-cc Pulsar, priced at Rs 51,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi). As part of its strategy to expand in the bikes segment, the company is developing high-end versions of its Pulsar brand. "We can go for a Pulsar 400-cc or a Pulsar 500-cc. We are already in the process of developing such bikes and our R&D teams are at work (on these projects)," Mr Bajaj said, without divulging details.


The company’s Pulsar portfolio includes the 150-cc, 180-cc and 220-cc versions besides the 135-cc bike launched today.


The company has also decided to phase out its model 'Exceed' and has already stopped its production, Mr Bajaj said.


On the sales front, Mr Bajaj said that the company was looking at a sales figure of 1.8 million units this fiscal. Bajaj Auto sold 1.2 million units last year.

"With the launch of the new 135-cc Pulsar, we expect the monthly sales of the Pulsar family to reach 75,000 units from January. Besides, we are already selling 80,000 units of ‘Discover’ every month," said S Sridhar, chief executive officer for two-wheelers, Bajaj Auto.


The company is also going ahead with a distinct branding exercise for its three-wheeler segment offering.


"Since July this year, we have been marketing our three-wheelers under the brand 'RE', denoting reverse engine. So RE will now be our brand for commercial vehicles," Mr Bajaj said, adding that RE will, however, not be a separate company.
— Yogesh Sapkale


-- Sucheta Dalal