'Our R&D guys run this company and till now they have never let us down.'

K Srinivas, president, motorcycles, Bajaj Auto, speaks to Sumantra B Barooah on the all-new range-topping Pulsars — the 400SS and 400CS — showcased at the Auto Expo 2014.

By Sumantra B Barooah calendar 04 Mar 2014 Views icon2974 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
'Our R&D guys run this company and till now they have never let us down.'

K Srinivas, president, motorcycles, Bajaj Auto, speaks to Sumantra B Barooah on the all-new range-topping Pulsars — the 400SS and 400CS — showcased at the Auto Expo 2014.


The Pulsar brand has been taken to a new level with the products showcased at the Auto Expo 2014 but in terms of this positioning, what are your plans?
I guess you are trying to ask me whether it is really a Pulsar. So let’s start with a bit of history when we introduced the Pulsar in the year 2000, and the 150 and 180 twins at that time. I think it was very radical.
Today, one is so accustomed to seeing it that the thought may arise as to why one is messing around with it. The idea that comes is that the next level of Pulsar has to be radical; it can’t be incremental because if one is incremental then one is not doing a service to the brand. But as far as Bajaj is concerned, we have basically the commuting brand which is the Discover and Platina and we have the sports brand which is the Pulsar. So we need to have this brand which has to take people to the next level.


How long did it take to develop this?
The normal development time for a bike like this takes between two to three years This is a new bike, not something we did together from some other parts. We never found out what it costs because at the end of the day if you have to do it, you have to. Our R&D guys run this company and till now they have never let us down.
Coming back to the Pulsar, I would say we really feel that it has to be at cutting edge, it has to straight-drive the brand in terms of sportiness. We do not want a bike that only a few people can ride. This is a bike that a guy just out of college can just put his hand around and ride it.


But in terms of the affordability factor, what kind of price premium would you look at compared to the next 200 NS?
As far as our pricing is concerned, our margins will be protected. We do not price anything at a discount. Having said that, I don’t think that affordability will be a very big issue because, normally we see bikes at these levels get priced a pretty high levels. It will get the price it deserves.


While the 200 NS was a significant upgrade, it didn’t really reflect in terms of volume perhaps because the KTM came in and there was the possibility of cannibalisation?
That depends on the market. When you look at the 200 NS, one has to realise that for Bajaj Auto, this was the first naked sports bike. The classic Pulsar was not a naked sports bike and there was a time when people were anticipating a naked sports bike. Well, it came and did well.
We felt maybe the naked sports will take over the entire market and the Pulsar 220 will stop selling. But sales have gone through the roof, so we are not complaining.


But in case of the 200 NS, is it more of a sibling rather than a new member to the upgrade, meaning it had to be close to the 220?
I would not say that. When we introduced the bike almost 10 years on a new platform, everything was different — from the engine (the first to be water-cooled), monoshock first time, first time we put the frame, this is how we defined the technology.
We are today doing these two bikes because of the 200. I think it was a radical change. At the end of the day, there are people who don’t want to buy a naked sports and those who want a 220.
One has to respect the customer’s choice because unlike a commuter bike, the higher you go, the more choice you have to give because the buyer is spending a lot of money.

How much of inputs and knowledge sharing was there with KTM on these two new products?
If you look at the most of the KTM bikes today, a lot of development is from India; so, basically the R&D team is common.

Having said that, there would be inspirations and carryover parts. KTM is an out-and-out performance bike with very short gears. So there are people who actually are very surprised when they ride the bike, whereas that is not the characteristic of the Pulsar. KTM is all about a lighter bike. While some parts may be the same, the underlying philosophies are different.

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