Further strengthening its Pulsar brand and taking up its 2015 new motorcycle launches to five since January, Bajaj Auto today rolled out the next in its sports series with the Pulsar adventure sports bikes (Rs 91,550 for the AS200 trim and Rs 79,000 for the AS150 edition, ex-showroom Delhi introductory prices). Earlier this year, the company had launched its Platina ES and 2015 CT100 commuter bikes and the Pulsar RS 200 super sports bike.
The Pulsar adventure sports bikes, equipped with a muscular fairing and extended visor, are targeted at young riders for long-distance weekend getaway runs. Both bikes come with projector headlamps, which is claimed to be a segment-first. While the Pulsar AS200 is powered by a 199.5cc triple spark, 4-valve, liquid-cooled DTSi engine, the AS150 (pictured below) runs on a 149.5cc twin spark, 4-valve, air-cooled DTSi engine.
For the past 3-5 years, Bajaj had been focusing on growing niche products like the KTM brand. It now plans to drive Bajaj brands like Pulsar and hence the strengthening of its sports bike flagship product platform which was introduced in 2001.
The company is bullish of garnering sales of around 5,000-10,000 units a month from the Pulsar AS150 and 2,000-5,000 units of the AS200. The Pulsar RS200, launched last month and targeted to sell 2,500 bikes a month, has already received 2000 bookings and is on track, according to Eric Vas, president (Motorcycles Business).
Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, dispelled any doubts about the continuation of the Pulsar 220 saying it is the segment leader and along with the 150cc and 180cc Pulsars comprises the original legacy of the Pulsar brand and is more like a standard car. He termed the Pulsar AS200 and AS150 as “more SUV-ish and customers are looking beyond a standard car.” At present, Bajaj Auto sells 60,000 units a month in the domestic sports bike market that is estimated to be around 150,000 units a month.
“The Pulsar 400 that we showed at the last Auto Expo will follow later this financial year,” Rajiv Bajaj added, talking about the new products in the Pulsar brand. “We will also start exports to new markets of Saudi Arabia and Russia either this month or next month.”
Currently, Bajaj Auto exports 7 bike brands to around 40 -50 big markets globally and plans to add 14 new markets for motorcycles and 13 additional markets for its three-wheeler portfolio. In all, 26 new markets will be tapped this fiscal though Bajaj refused to name them citing that the first-mover advantage is important for the company. At present 30,000 bikes are exported every month comprising the KTM and Pulsar brands and Bajaj holds a 10 percent share in motorcycles globally.
Bajaj Auto has been exporting its KTM bikes since 2012-13, producing about 7,000 units per month at its Pune manufacturing facility. The company will kick-start exports of its recently launched Pulsar RS200 as well as the AS200 and AS150 siblings within the next couple of months. Some new products on the Discover platform can also be expected during the year.
According to SIAM results, Bajaj Auto posted domestic sales of 1770,778 a dip of 15.65 percent in two-wheeler sales during 2014-15. When queried, Bajaj pointed out that YOY results should not be the barometer of the health of a company as the company had exported 1.8 million vehicles in FY’15 compared to 1.6 million in FY’14 growing 14 percent last fiscal. He negated the need for discounts or other incentives on Bajaj motorcycles saying that for the last 5 years in a row, Bajaj had maintained a 20 percent EBITDA and 20 percent operating margin that was double that of Hero MotoCorp and 3-4 times that of TVS Motor. It was difficult to clock such high operating margins in such a subdued market where motorcycles had shown slow growth compared to scooters.
Also read: Bajaj Auto lowers price entry barrier to adventure sport tourers with AS Pulsars