It’s been just over six months since the launch of the Gixxer and you have followed it up with the SF. How have things gone? What are your expectations from the range?
The first six months have been extremely exciting for us. The product has been appreciated by enthusiasts and critics alike and by now, we have around 45,000 Gixxers on road. So, at this stage, I can say that we are extremely bullish about the Gixxer series. I think the SF — Sports Fairing bike — is another direction that some of the people were looking at — a more stylish bike. Based on the pricing and the kind of bookings we have got cumulatively, unless it’s simply the initial fuss, the SF could go on to account for 20-30 percent of the demand. But, as of now, our expectation is that the SF will account for 15-20 percent of the Gixxer’s cumulative volumes.
Has Suzuki shifted focus from the commuter segment?
For the mass segment, you need to be very strong at distribution. Even if your product is right up there with the best, you need to go into the hinterland very strongly, that’s one. Secondly, you need to get into the price and mileage as your USP because that’s what customers look at. Other companies that have very strong numbers, have a much lower cost of production. So that is possibly the reason why we have looked at niche segments to start with and make products that give you a strong bottomline and a decent top line. Going forward, we feel that the mass market — be it the 100, 110 or 125cc segment — is a very competitive market in terms of pricing, mileage, and in terms of availability of finance in the rural and semi-urban market. For players like us who are not as strong as the competition, it is important to make a niche for ourselves. Hence, we will be strongly focussed on the niche market in motorcycles as of now.
How do you see the Gixxer range growing? And, how far along are your plans for an entry-level cruiser built around the 155cc engine?
We need to tap young customers and niche segments. For the Gixxer, an extensive market research programme was conducted because the Indian market is very competitive. It is very important that the product is thoroughly researched and then developed so that it can carve out its own niche in that particular segment. Research will give us that direction. Should we go into cruiser, race or any other direction, to what extent do we go? As of now, that’s the stage we are at.
For us, it’s important to make a strong base because anything you bring needs to raise the benchmark. So, that benchmark needs to be defined by research and you cannot deliver a product that is lower than the one set in the past. It will take us at least six months to a year before we can actually look ahead and say, “What next?”
What about resurrecting the Inazuma?
We wanted to test the Inazuma. That was the first bike brought in as a CKD. The price of the product was not in line with the competition so we readjusted the price. Then, the bike sold like hot cakes, to such an extent that when we decided to withdraw the product, starting now, there’s a huge demand built up for it which we cannot meet. As of now, we are not looking at that space, after the discontinuation of the Inazuma.
What about the under 800cc premium bike market?
As of now, below 800cc, we would like to focus on the Gixxer series for the next 12-18 months and not really get into those motorcycles that require far more effort. If you are looking at below 800cc, you have to look at CKD and that’s not something that we are looking at. As of now, we would only like to bring the motorcycles that are being launched globally. So the S1000 or S1000F will make their way here in July.
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