Rakesh Sharma, Executive Director, Bajaj Auto, on the company 'sstrategy to improve its status in the two-wheeler commuter segment and its plans to foray into the EV industry. He also reveals the company’s outlook for the overall two-wheeler industry and the vision behind its new marketing strategy.
Autocar Professional recently revealed pictures and some technical specifications of the Bajaj electric three-wheeler.
What is the status of the commuter bike segment? What is Bajaj Auto's strategy to enhance its presence there and what is the gameplan to revive sales of the V and Discover?
The industry itself is experiencing a double-digit decline in recent times, though the entry-level commuter and the sports segments are performing relatively better. It is the middle space where there is the most severe decline. We will continue our strategy of the previous year to offer meaningful product benefits to this customer in these two segments at minimum cost increments.
The sales of the Discover and V have reduced. However, both brands enjoy specific followership and we will continue to support them so that their current engagement with the customer continues.
About 40 percent of Bajaj Auto's motorcycle sales come from export markets. Could it be that export markets contribute over 50 percent of sales in the next year or two?
We really do not focus on this metric. The domestic and international strategies are independently pursued and their share with respect to each other is just an outcome.
What is the current inventory level scenario in the market and where does Bajaj Auto's inventory level stand now?
We have about 6 to 7 weeks of stocks in the channel, which is on the higher side but hopefully the uptick in large parts of the country, due to the marriage season, will help mitigate the issue.
What is the company's outlook for the overall two-wheeler industry and within it the motorcycle segment, for FY2020?
This is a challenging year to try and forecast as there are many uncertainties. The industry has not yet emerged from the decline, which set in after Diwali last year. There has been some cost increase due to the regulatory changes which further muddy the waters. Then, the next round of regulatory changes in April will impose a higher cost burden, which may actually advance purchase by customers. So, we may see a bit of a roller-coaster ride this year, rendering average growth rate predictions an exercise in futility.
Bajaj Auto's recent ad campaign with 'The World's Favourite Indian' tagline indicates the company's international presence and focus on becoming a global motorcycle maker. How is the company looking to enhance its presence overseas?
The World's Favourite Indian campaign showcases what the company stands for today — a successful motorcycle enterprise with a meaningful presence across the world. This is the outcome of decades of business development overseas. We will continue the thrust to expand our share and build a solid, competitive position globally in the emerging markets of the world.
FY2020 will be key for Bajaj Auto as it will enter the electric vehicle space. What will be the two or three key pillars for the company in the EV industry?
Our objective is to develop and present electric options for all the formats we operate in, which is two, three and four wheels. At this stage, we will focus on evaluating feasibilities, business and otherwise and learning from the product-customer-environment interfaces.
Will Urbanite cover both motorcycles and scooters?
The Urbanite vertical has been set up to look at advanced intra-city mobility solutions, so it will evaluate all types of options.
(This interview was first published in the May 15, 2019 issue of Autocar Professional)
Also read: Bajaj Auto on a roll in FY2019, records new highs in sales, profit and exports