Benelli sees India as its No. 1 or 2 market globally in 5 years

Italian two-wheeler brand Benelli is the latest to enter India and tap the growth opportunity this country offers.

By Sumantra B Barooah calendar 19 Mar 2015 Views icon9891 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Shirish Kulkarni, chairman, DSK Motowheels, and George Wang, Board director, Benelli.

Shirish Kulkarni, chairman, DSK Motowheels, and George Wang, Board director, Benelli.

Italian two-wheeler brand Benelli is the latest to enter India and tap the growth opportunity this country offers.

The company is bullish about its prospects here and expects India to be its largest or second largest market in the next five years. No wonder then that it launched five models –  TNT 300 (parallel-twin, 300cc), TNT 600i and TNT 600GT (in-line four-cylinder, 600cc), TNT 899 (in-line three-cylinder, 899cc) and TNT 1130R (in-line three-cylinder, 1131cc) – at one go. Three more are expected in the second half of this year.

What gives the company hope for success, though it's not a popular brand here, is the sheer size of India's population in addition to the stability in the macro factors that affect the economy. "The population is close to China's. All brands are concentrating here. That should be the reason. Once the economy improves, people will move from commuter bikes to premium bikes. Maybe the market size is not big now. But we can build our image now so that once the market explodes in 5 or 10 years, we are in a strong position," says George Wang, Board director, Benelli. Currently, China is Benelli's single biggest market with sales of around 20,000 units last year. That is 20 percent of Benelli's total sales last year. 

Benelli will target customers who are also prospective customers for other sports and superbike brands. It doesn't enjoy the brand equity of a Harley-Davidson, Triumph or a Kawasaki. Therefore, its focus is to build the brand image and earn customer confidence. In terms of products, it is looking at garnering strong market share in the 300cc to 600cc segment. "This will be the majority of our motorcycle sales. Other competitors normally concentrate on the segment above 600cc," says Wang. That's why three of its five products launched on March 19 fall in that segment. Two of the two products that will come next will be 250cc.

Benelli is an Italian brand which is owned by the Chinese Qiangjiang Group. That could create an apprehension in the minds of certain buyers here. Wang says the brand can expect it but it wouldn't have any major impact. Wang says, "I think in the beginning people will have this kind of question. For example, Land Rover is owned by Tata Motors. At the moment, Land Rover sales are very good in China. People in the beginning think 'Oh, this comes from an Indian owner', but after using the vehicle they feel it is same as before. Maybe for a short period, people may have such questions but after some time they will disappear."

Benelli's Indian partner DSK also may share Wang's view. Shirish Kulkarni, chairman of DSK Motowheels, says: "We are highly elated on launching the legendary Italian superbikes from Benelli for Indian motorcycle enthusiasts. The country’s superbike industry has grown by leaps and bounds, giving us immense scope to tap this lucrative and increasing market."

Sales in the Indian premium motorcycle market during 2014 are pegged at around 10,000 units, a year-on-year growth of over 50 percent. DSK Motowheels has appointed a dealer each in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune (company owned). It plans to take the count from 9 to 20 by the end of this year. 

The Benelli bikes are currently assembled at DSK Motowheel's facility at Wai, Maharashtra, which also assembles bikes from Korean brand Hyosung. But within a year at the most, one of the brands will move out to a new location.  

Ex-showroom Delhi prices for Benelli's first five products in India: Benelli TNT 300: Rs 2.83 lakh; Benelli TNT 600i: Rs 5.15 lakh; Benelli TNT 600GT: Rs 5.63 lakh; Benelli TNT 899: Rs 9.48 lakh; Benelli TNT 1130: Rs 11.81 lakh

More news on Benelli: 

Benelli rides into India, launches five sports bikes

Benelli may also enter Indian scooter market

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