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M&M may tap Italjet product line to push scooter sales

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Looking to expand its newly-formed two-wheeler business unit, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is studying the options of launching models of Italjet Moto SpA, a famed Italian scooter and motorcycle manufacturing company, in the fiercely competitive domestic market.

Mahindra inherited the rights to make the stylish and powerful scooters of Italjet through the buy-out of assets of Pune-based Kinetic Motors in July last year for Rs 110 crore.

Kinetic Motors had forged a licencing deal with Italjet which allowed it to source design and technology for seven scooter models ranging from moto-scooters to retro-scooters.

Anoop Mathur, president-two-wheeler sector, M&M, said: “Out of the number of products which Kinetic had signed up, only Blaze was taken to some distance before it ran into some issues. Let’s say (that) the opportunity is available with us and we will evaluate the options to see how best we can utilise them.”

Italjet, which began designing and making bikes for Ducati, has only a few models left in its fold, including dirt bikes, All Terrain Vehicles, scooters and motorcycles.

Kinetic reserved the rights to manufacture scooters like Jetset, Millenium (called Blaze in the Indian market), Jupiter, Dragster, Torpedo, Formula and Velocifero for the domestic and export market.

Although the Pune-based company had the rights to manufacture all seven models in India, only one product made it to the local streets. The 165cc, 11.6 bhp Blaze was the only model from Kinetic’s Italian series launched in India.

Access to manufacturing rights of the seven models will enable M&M to leapfrog in design and technology for manufacturing scooters, an area where the company has made a fresh splash with the launch of two indigenously-built models — Rodeo and Duro — introduced last week.

M&M re-engineered Kinetic’s manufacturing plant to suit the requirements of its own products. In addition, the company has outsourced the design and technology task to Engines Engineering SrL, an Italian company that M&M had bought earlier. Engines Engineering has worked with legendary motorcycle-making companies such as Malaguti and Yamaha.

Although Mahindra 2 Wheelers currently has as many as six models (all scooters) under its belt, comprising three models from Kinetic (Nova, Kine and 4S), one (Flyte) from technology partner SYM and two of its own models, experts say with Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) controlling a majority of the scooter market, the challenge for M&M will be daunting.

According to the last year’s financial tally supplied by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, HMSI commanded a share of 57 per cent of the scooter market, followed by the Chennai-based TVS Motors with 21 per cent.

In all, the scooter segment comprised 15 per cent of last year’s total or 1.14 million units, of the overall two-wheeler market, which stood at 7.4 million units. The growth was 9 per cent; during the same year, motorcycles grew by a paltry 1 per cent, to 5.83 million units.

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