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The premium and super-premium motorcycle space in India has seen several players competing for a market share in the recent past, including overseas players Honda, Triumph, Harley Davison and others, and local players like Royal Enfield and Bajaj.
The recent entrant now is BMW Motorrad. In an interaction with T E Narasimhan, Timo Resch, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, BMW Motorrad spoke about the company's strategy for India. Edited excerpts:
How big is the opportunity in India and what is BMW Motorrad's strategy?
BMW Motorrad is the most successful premium manufacturer of motorcycles in above 500 CC category. In 2017 we sold 164,000 units worldwide.
We have a strategic goal to achieve 200,000 units worldwide by 2020. One of the important markets to reach that target is India, as it is one of the largest two-wheeler markets. India, for that reason, has a lot of importance for us.
It is important for us to build a solid foundation. That's the reason you don't see us rushing into this market and just grabbing some volume because we want to be here for the long run and we think that BMW Motorrad has a brand promise to deliver, starting from a reliable dealer network.
When we decided to enter the Indian market, we started building our dealer network, and by the end of the year 2017, we had seven dealers.
The second step was obviously the products. We started the year 2017 with 11 topnotch products. The next step is increasing the dealer network in the cities where we see growth and bringing products, our entry-level G 310 R and G 310 GS and the new mid-segment of the F 750 GS and F 850 GS. .
BMW is more known as motorcycle brand, whereas India is moving more towards more scooters. How are you going to position yourself?
It depends on the market needs. For us, the maxi scooters we launched a couple of years ago is a clear step into urban mobility. Urban mobility in the future will become more important. Apart from our big scooters, this year we will launch a mid-segment scooter with a 350 CC engine.
If customer demand on scooters is picking up, we will definitely bring them to India. We have flexible production plans. Homologation for the Indian market is something that we have to take care of. But as soon as we take the final decision, we will bring a product like that within a year.
What are your plans for electric vehicles?
We strongly believe that electric drivetrains will be one part of the future of motorcycles and we are proud that we were bold to launch electric scooters, which is a very successful product in the market. The range of electric two-wheelers today is okay for scooters for electric drivetrains, for touring or offroading bikes range and weight are not in balance yet. But we clearly see that after 2020, it is going to happen.
What role will India play in your goal of 200,000 units by 2020?
We don't go into details of particular markets. We can say that natural demands will be met, but we don't over-push. Last year we have sold 250-300 motorcycles in this market. There is clearly room for more.
Our production agreement with TVS Motor is one that is delivering from this local manufacturing to other parts of the world. The 310 models are all built locally in India and later this year they will be sold here also. We plan to start sales of 310 GS and the R by the second half of this year and final negotiations and all the processes are taking place.
What is your plan for dealer expansion?
Right now we have seven dealers and by the end of 2018, we will have 10 dealers. We are trying to strategically pick the right cities. The plans after that we will see after 2018.