Q: Your arrangement with Bajaj has been a great success. What are your thoughts on this?
A: For me, it is beyond any expectation I had seven years ago. Basically, it starts from the huge trust between the two leading persons, Rajiv Bajaj and myself. This would be the backbone for the cooperation. Definitely, the two teams are working well together, R&D, quality control, everything. As you have seen, the RC is a new benchmark. The value that we have been able to get from a so-called emerging market is outstanding.
Q: In India. KTM is known as a streetbike manufacturer, while globally KTM’s reputation was built as a dirt bike manufacturer. Is the off-road heritage important for India, if at all?
A: It’s interesting. Basically, KTM has emerged from dirt bikes. For the last couple of years, we have been the world market leader in the off-road bike segment. It was at the millennium that I decided, let’s go on-road. Why not? We can do all the engines. We started with enduro, long-distance and adventure type of bikes. We started with the Rally Dakar with the two-cylinder engine and so on. Every year, we got more market share and starting last year, we are now a street bike manufacturer! Around 60 percent of our sales is from street bikes! Although, off-road is also growing! But, the street products are helped by the joint products (with Bajaj). We also have a very successful range of big bikes. So, KTM has a full model range of sport bikes, from off-road to on-road. So, that helps for sure in India, because we are a street bike brand. But, don’t forget we are from dirt, so I will also bring (dirt bikes) to India. I know that normal road conditions can get like off-road here.
Q: What of an adventure on the Duke/RC platform?
A: Adventure, dual-purpose – so-called Enduro bike.
Q: But it is on the same platform?
A: We can’t use the same platform. We need different travel for suspension and seat height, so it is a separate bike. So, it's not the platform, just the engine.
Q: Will KTM’s first big bike for India be the 1050 Adventure?
A: It is a new bike and we will launch it in two months in Milan. It will be a global big bike for KTM. That bike, we will prepare for CKD, so that we can come down with the import tax and that we will offer in India as well. And then will come an off-road competition motocross bike.
Q: Will your new family of twin-cylinder engines be produced in India?
A: It could be, for the entry segment. We will start at 500-600cc and go up to 800cc.
RISHAD COOPER AND KARTIKEYA SINGHEE