It’s not only cars. BMW seems to be catching the eye of premium bike-loving Indians also. If the initial demand for BMW bikes in India gathers pace, it is only a matter of time when BMW Motorrad will start assembling bikes in India also.
Since its first delivery in India in mid-December last year, BMW Motorrad has sold 35 bikes. Twenty of them were sold in December 2010 itself. The German bike maker had a target of selling 50 bikes in its first year in India. “We are confident of fulfilling or even exceeding this year’s target,” says Hendrik Von Kuenheim, director, BMW Motorrad. One of the models leading the charge of BMW Motorrad is the S 1000 RR. During the first week of May, BMW Motorrad rolled out its two millionth bike from its Berlin factory.
One key issue on Kuenheim’s mind is building the BMW brand in two-wheelers. And while there will naturally be a positive rub-off from its passenger car business, BMW Motorrad will have to build its independent brand equity in India.
“I think we have really good opportunities for the future. BMW Motorrad has outstanding products and is the most innovative motorcycle manufacturer worldwide with innovations like ABS, Traction Control, adaptive headlights and so on and so forth. Above all, I see synergies with regard to the great brand awareness and reputation of the BMW Group in India,” adds Kuenheim.
That synergy could also be utilised for sourcing components from the growing vendor base in India. Autocar Professional has learnt that BMW Motorrad has already started sourcing from India.
When asked if India has the potential to break into BMW Motorrad’s top five global markets, in his
e-mail response to Autocar Professional, Von Kuenheim said that while the Indian market for premium motorcycles is still quite nascent, it is beginning to develop. “Against this background, it has been a strategic decision to enter the market now and prepare for the expected future growth. The big markets today are Europe and the USA. Brazil is also growing fast.”
He also said that sales of the Husqvarna brand, now acquired by BMW, accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of BMW Motorrad sales. “Our target is to grow with both brands remarkably,” Von Kuenheim said. With regard to the challenges of operating in the India market, Von Kuenheim said the market for premium motorcycles in India would have to grow significantly. “Independent of the market development, BMW Motorrad has to build up a strong brand awareness in India as we have it already for automobiles. In this context, we have to build up a BMW Motorrad rider community in the new market environment,” he added.
The Indian market for premium bikes above 500cc is estimated at 5,000 units per annum. Among the players who have already entered the market are Harley-Davidson which has an assembly unit in Haryana, and Ducati of Italy which imports its bikes. A more recent entrant is Hyosung of Korea which will have assembly operations here. India’s two-wheeler Japanese bike makers currently import their superbike offerings.