Mahindra redials two-wheeler business, targets niche market with BSA and Jawa brands

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 25 Oct 2016


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Recognising the growing demand for midsized motorcycles in India and a need to add more fizz to its existing two-wheeler business, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) today unveiled plans to target premium niche segments.

With the recent acquisition of Classic Legends, in which M&M has a 60 percent stake, the company aims to co-create a lifestyle mobility company with relevant partners across products and services by entering previously untapped segments. It plans to achieve this by re-energising the iconic British brand BSA, whose global brand rights it has bought out, and manufacturing Czech brand Jawa motorcycles under license. While BSA motorcycles will be rolled out in international markets, Jawa products will be launched in markets like India and Sri Lanka. Motorcycles of both brands will not bear Mahindra badging.  

According to M&M, “Both BSA and Jawa have heritage value and consumer following in many parts of the world. BSA, which has a global appeal, will be primarily suited to the international markets. Jawa, which has a cult following in India, is more suited to the domestic market.”

Classic Legends, under which the two foreign brands are to be produced, aims to leverage global capabilities in design and engineering, along with the expertise available at Mahindra Racing’s technical development centre in Italy. The first products from both brands are expected to roll out only after two years.

Speaking on the new two-wheeler initiative, Dr Pawan Goenka, executive director, M&M, said: “We are very excited about the new journey that we are embarking upon in the two-wheeler space. Our focus on the niche segment through Classic Legends will bring alive some iconic brands like BSA and Jawa.”

Chequered history

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BSA is one of the world’s most respected motorcycle brands. From the early 1930s through to the 1960s, it ranked among the largest motorcycle producers in the world. In the 1950s, the 350cc and 500cc BSA Gold Star were among the fastest motorcycles and dominated Isle of Man Clubman TT races. It was in the 1960s, when Japanese manufacturers began high-volume production of low-cost, high-tech motorcycles that a brand like BSA began to feel the pressure and gradually wilted away.

Jawa is an equally iconic two-wheeler brand. It was founded in Praque in 1929 when Frantisek Janecek bought the motorcycle division of Wanderer. The word Jawa was coined by combining the first two letters of Janecek and Wanderer.  

Jawa will find resonance among bike aficionados in India. From 1961 onwards, the Mysore-based Ideal Jawa India manufactured Jawa motorcycles under license from the Czech firm, initially under the Jawa brand and then the Yezdi brand. Production ceased in 1996 but many of these machines continue to be well cared for by collectors and are seen at vintage shows across the country. 

Meanwhile, Mahindra Two-wheelers will continue production of its Centuro, Gusto and Mojo brands at its Pithampur plant in Madhya Pradesh. For the April-September 2016 period, the company has sold a total of 33,165 units, down 55 percent year on year.

Peugeot MotoCycles, the Mahindra Group’s other two-wheeler acquisition (51 percent stake), continues to focus on growth in the European markets with premium products like the Metropolis, Django and Speedfight.

Stay tuned for further news updates for this developing story.

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