'A Desmo Owners club in India will bring together not just Ducati owners but also people interested in the brand.'

Ravi Avalur, Ducati India’s managing director, speaks to Amit Panday on plans to expand the model range, develop new dealerships as well as grow the numbers of Ducatisti in India.

Amit Panday By Amit Panday calendar 22 Apr 2016 Views icon7397 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
'A Desmo Owners club in India will bring together not just Ducati owners but also people interested in the brand.'

Ravi Avalur, Ducati India’s managing director, speaks to Amit Panday on plans to expand the model range, develop new dealerships as well as grow the numbers of Ducatisti in India.

How do you foresee demand for large-capacity superbikes in India? There are many big bike brands which do not reveal their annual sales including Ducati India.

I would say the large-capacity premium and luxury motorcycle market, which breaks down into many categories including sportsbikes, street bikes, sport tourers, cruisers, modern classics and others, could be classified as an upper-end category with motorcycles powered by engines above 600cc and priced above Rs 5.50 lakh.

There clearly is no comparison between what we make and the motorcycles made by other manufacturers that are, may be, priced below Rs 5 lakh or so. My analysis of this segment would be roughly 4,500 units for 2014-15. The market seems to be growing at over 45 percent year-on-year, and I think we would be closer to 7,000 units in FY2015-16. This, however, is entirely based on my analysis of the figures available through SIAM.

As you said, not all companies report annual sales to SIAM which only means that we are at least closer to 7,000 units for FY2015-16. Further, new incoming players are going to add to the growing market size, which is good.

Is there any particular motorcycle category that you see attracting maximum traction in India?

I would say that it is well balanced. There is no one particular category that is faring far better than the others. In one of our latest product launches – the Multistrada 1200 in the sport tourer category – we saw that the number of customers aspiring for a practical and a versatile bike, which can be used on a variety of road conditions, are growing in India. Yet that does not make it the largest selling bike in the category. For what the bike is capable of doing, I think it is priced very competitively at an ex-showroom (Pune) price-tag of close to Rs 16.10 lakh.

How is the Hypermotard faring in India?

I won’t be able to share any sales figures with you but what the Hypermotard offers is an excellent versatile performance. It can go on a track and can be used on poor roads as well. Its saddle position offers tremendous visibility in traffic to the rider. I would say that it has found its place in the Indian market.

What is the market response to the Ducati Scrambler in India?

There is a category of premium bike buyers who want to buy a bike which can be used every day. He wants performance motorcycling from his house to his office and back. The demand for the Scrambler has really caught up; apart from having beautiful classic styling, it offers easy customisation. It’s easy for a buyer to individualise his Scrambler. At India Bike Week, no two Scramblers were alike. It has a character that lends itself to adaptation and modification and, at the same time, can deal with a wide variety of road conditions. The Scrambler has been a tremendously successful model for us.

The previous importer and seller of Ducati bikes in India could not meet customer expectations. While the brand suffered a setback to some extent, existing customers were exposed to several issues, particularly around availability of bikes. What are you doing to turn around the brand’s reputation in India?

First of all, I would say that the time was right for us to enter directly into the Indian market. The first thing to do was to reach out to existing Ducati customers across the board who got the bikes through the previous importer.

We have been able to very successfully reach out to all these existing Ducati owners. Today, we not only service the currently sold Ducati models but we are also servicing Ducati bikes that were purchased over the past 10 years.

So I think if at all there was a lack of service capabilities or lack of proper network, we have been able to address that.

When you appoint a dealer, do you look at having a showroom along with service bays or is this not a strict mandate?

It depends on location to location. In Pune, it is very feasible to put the service bays attached to the showroom, and this will always be our first priority. This is also a function of real estate costs. For example, in Mumbai, it is difficult to set up a spacious showroom along with multiple service bays. However, Pune as a location is very conducive to such a setup.

When we are scouting for a partner, we obviously look at someone with strong automotive experience, an ability to deal with premium customers and high net worth clients, someone with a demonstrative track record, good service reputation, minimised conflict of interests and other factors. The idea is to make a very careful balanced decision.

Lastly, are you planning brand push initiatives for Ducati in India?

We have a riders’ club called as the DOC – Desmo Owners Club – which operates with a single model around the world. It is here that we bring together not just Ducati owners but also people interested in the brand.

We are planning to do this at all our dealerships in India – Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore and Pune. We are in the process of identifying suitably motivated people to lead these initiatives in these clubs. These will be autonomous, independent clubs supported by Ducati officially. However, the company won’t be a part of the same.

Our priorities are very clear. Right now, our activities are very focussed on the basics such as setting up a strong, credible network along with aftersales and service capabilities. The next step would be to set up these DOC clubs. We took part in the India Bike Week, which was our first-ever participation in a large-scale event themed around motorcycles. It was very successful for us and we used the platform to launch the 959 Panigale.

While Ducati has an assembly facility in Thailand from where most of the models are imported into India currently, is there any likelihood that Ducati will set up a CKD facility here?

Currently our focus is on activities downstream. Clearly, one cannot rule out anything in the future but at this point in time our focus is on building a reliable aftersales service network. 

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