Kawasaki Heavy Industries has launched a new Indian subsidiary, India Kawasaki Motors Pvt. Ltd. (IKM), specialising in motorcycle imports and sales. Kawasaki entered into a technical assistance agreement with Bajaj Auto Ltd. (BAL) in 1984 under which BAL has produced and sold motorcycles in collaboration with Kawasaki.

Kawasaki's new imports and sales subsidiary, IKM, will consign the production of the completely knocked down (CKD) or imported kits to BAL's Chakan plant. The locally made motorcycles will then be sold together with imported complete motorcycles through BAL's Probiking shops. IKM plans several supersport, sport and cruiser models of motorcycles in the 250cc plus class to drive sales to around 1,000 units in 2010.

In 2009, total motorcycle sales in India were about 7.8 million units, making it the second largest motorcycle market after China. The Indian market for mid to large size motorcycles in the 201cc plus class is about 30,000 units per annum and growing.

Addressing the media, Hiroshi Takata, President, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, said, “We started sales of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R in India from October 2009. In future, we expect that the market in India for the 201cc plus category will go up to 50,000 units and the following year to 60,000 units. We are studying the option of localisation but as of now, have no plans.” Eric Vas, Head, Probiking and President, New Projects, BAL, said, “there has been a fairly large investment in spare parts and sales and service for the Ninja covering 32 cities with exclusive retail space and service stations and this could go up to 35-40 this fiscal.”

Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, BAL, said there was no major investment by BAL and the only investment had been around Rs. 5 crore by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. “Kawasaki's strength is bigger bikes and before the Ninja 250R launch six months ago, the big bike market in India was around 10 units a month. Ninja alone is doing 80-100 units a month now and Kawasaki is planning the launch of bigger bikes going forward,” said Mr. Bajaj.

On whether BAL was planning to make larger bikes, Mr. Bajaj said the company had a two-pronged approach for the bigger bike market. “For the on-track bikes, we tied up with Kawasaki for the Ninja and for off-road bikes, we have KTM with the Duke and Adventure.

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