In an effort to bring the renowned Italian motorcycle brand Benelli to India, DSK Motowheels will assemble and launch a portfolio of five bikes by December 2014. DSK Motowheels has formed another entity called DSK Benelli (it also sells Hyosung bikes under DSK Hyosung brand), which it will use to assemble and distribute the Italian bikes in India.
The company will have to initially assemble these bikes at its Wai assembly plant, where it currently assembles the Hyosung bikes imported in the form of CKD kits from South Korea. According to Shirish Kulkarni, chairman, DSK Benelli, the Wai facility currently has an assembly capacity of 10 bikes per day, which translates into 250 bikes per month in a single workshift. The company, however, faces a severe space shortage to stock the bikes at its Wai facility and to address that it exploring a new location to set up an all-new assembly-cum-stockyard facility.
The five Benellis – TNT 302 (in-line two-cylinder 300cc), TNT 600 i and TNT 600 GT (in-line, four-cylinder 600cc), TNT 899 (in-line three-cylinder 898cc) and TNT1130R (in-line, three-cylinder 1131cc) – are currently undergoing homologation and it is expected that the formalities would be concluded by December 2014, after which the company looks to commercially launch these bikes.
Talking to Autocar Professional, Kulkarni said: “While we have no choice but to assemble the Benelli bikes at Wai, we are looking at other options to set up a full-fledged assembly facility which will require investments in excess of Rs 300 crore. On the product front, we are currently working with Benelli to devise the pricing strategy for these five bikes for India; I can say that it would be extremely competitive in their own market spaces.” With the TNT 302 being the most affordable bike in the initial line-up of Benelli bikes, it is expected to be priced close to Rs 2.75 lakh.
While it is understood that the Italian bike maker will invest in the form of supplying the stock, spare parts, training to the engineers, its Indian partner will work towards setting up the infrastructure for the assembly operations and the dealerships in the near future. DSK Motowheels plans to set up 8 showrooms by December-January and 20 showrooms by the end of calendar year 2015.
Benelli, which sells close to 30,000 units per annum globally and carries a more than 100-year legacy of being the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturer, has been looking to enter into the Indian motorcycle market for over a year now and has chosen the DSK Group after judging their efforts with the Hyosung brand. Benelli is known to have a portfolio of bikes with engine displacement ranging from 300cc to 1600cc, all of which are eventually headed for India.
Talking exclusively to Autocar Professional on the sidelines of today’s announcement, Frank Zhuang, board director, Benelli, said: “We are currently developing commuter motorcycles for a number of global markets and we find the Indian commuter motorcycle segment very interesting. However, we will take the decision to enter that space when the right time comes.”
It can recalled that more than two years ago, Autocar Professional had broken the story on DSK Motowheels planning to venture into the commuter bike segment and was looking at borrowing the technology from the South Korean company. However, those plans got delayed indefinitely primarily because Hyosung’s ownership shifted to another South Korean company named KR Motors earlier this year. With the latest tie-up with Benelli, DSK now has a substantial option to pursue its old plan.
Notably, Benelli, though a thoroughbred Italian brand, is owned by a China-based QJ Group (Qianjiang Group).