India Kawasaki Motors (IKM) has finally shifted its assembly operations from Bajaj Auto’s Akurdi plant to its brand-new plant in Chakan with effect from July 1, 2017. The company is now fine-tuning its organisational structure and is redefining several operations that are expected to further propel its growth.
Currently Kawasaki’s product portfolio spans 18 motorcycles and their high-tech variants. This makes it the OEM with the largest portfolio of big bikes on offer, along with Triumph Motorcycles, among all premium bike makers doing business in India. However, the company currently has only 14 exclusive dealerships across India that also provide aftersales services.
Bajaj Auto and India Kawasaki Motors had ended their eight-year-old alliance with effect from April 1, 2017. The alliance covered sales and aftersales service for Kawasaki motorcycles from the Bajaj Auto-owned Probiking network, which comprised more than 300 showrooms across India, since 2009.
While this split with Bajaj Auto reduced the retail network for Kawasaki, going solo also reduced the Japanese bike maker’s dependency on others, thereby bringing complete autonomy in implementing its global benchmarks to local operations.
“Going forward, Kawasaki will have full control over its operations, ranging from parts procurement and warehousing, quality checks to aftersales services to its customers. The Japanese management at IKM is diligently working to set up teams for all core responsibilities as they continue to expand their operations,” a reliable source quoted in a report by our sister publication, Autocar Professional.
Officials at IKM say that while the company continues to streamline its operational expansion, it is also looking to aggressively boost its retail network as its strategy to ride into the new regional markets in the near term.
The Pune-headquartered IKM is already present in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Kochi, Coimbatore and other growing cities. The new cities it is considering under its retail expansion strategy include Mangalore, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jammu, Bhuvaneshwar, Guwahati, Nagpur and Indore among others.
Under its retail expansion, the company, which now sells an average of 1,000-1,400 units per annum, is looking to double up its annual sales over the coming two-three years.
Susheel Kumar P, regional manager – sales and marketing – IKM, is hopeful that IKM will be able to sell 2,000 units per year within 2020.
IKM’s portfolio includes five models that it currently assembles in India – Ninja 650, Z650, Versys 650, Ninja 300 and Z250. Of these, the Z250 is believed to have the maximum local content (up to 40 percent) among all locally assembled models.
The fully-faired Ninja 300 has been one of the largest selling models for Kawasaki in India. It is also one of the most successful entry-level sports bikes India’s premium motorcycle market has seen.
The midsize engine displacement category of 650cc is another space wherein Kawasaki has been mildly successful. It is estimated that the company continues to increasingly focus on the 650cc and 300cc platforms to add more models to its basket of locally assembled bikes and thereby boost its sales.
Now in its third generation, the 2017 Ninja 1000, which became the first litre-class model from Kawasaki to be imported via SKD route from Japan, has been launched at a price-tag of Rs 9,98,000 (ex-showroom, India).
Kawasaki has also revised the prices of its naked street motorcycle Z900, making it more competitive at Rs 7,68,000 (ex-showroom, India).
While IKM has started accepting bookings for both the models, the initial lot of updated Ninja 1000 available for sale comprise only 20 units. IKM officials say that more units of the 2017 Ninja 1000 will be imported once the first lot is sold out. Given the upbeat market and consumer sentiment after GST, expect Kawasaki to be a front-runner in big bikes.