Bajaj Chetak to ride into European markets in 2024

KTM is also working on a 48-volt electric motorcycle along with Bajaj Auto which is likely to hit the road in the coming years and will make its way into the Indian market as well.

By Amit Vijay M & Manobhava Baruah calendar 20 Jan 2023 Views icon3218 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Bajaj Chetak, the iconic scooter that was reborn in 2020, will make its way into the European market in 2024 thanks to KTM — its European partner.

Stefan Pierer, the Global CEO of KTM AG told a select set of Indian media “We will be launching Chetak in 2024. It may hit roads post March, as it is a starting time for the on-road season. The price point will be very competitive, and it will be taking on products from Chinese and Taiwanese companies. It will be across all central European markets.”

The Austrian promoter said he wants to retain the Chetak brand as it is very famous and has a rich history. “The second generation is a very nice product. We will use it as Chetak, it is a known brand, we will be saving the money on marketing, digitalisation. Secondly, Chetak stands for its famous history in India and it will help us too,” added Pierer.

KTM is also working on a 48-volt electric motorcycle along with Bajaj Auto which is likely to hit the road in the coming years and will make its way into the Indian market as well.

Not a big fan of EVs, Pierer calls the shift towards electrification a big hype.

“E-mobility is currently a global hype; it is over-rated. We in Europe, we think, we can save the planet with a Co2 footprint of 7.2 percent. Every politician is telling us to buy an electric car. All manufacturers are squeezed in the offering. For a motorcycle, it won’t work. You are behind something which is carrying 300 kgs of battery and you are riding to Italy. Imagine,” he said.

According to the maker of Duke 390, a one litre gasoline is equal to 10 kilo of the volume of battery technology. Pierer says, “I’m not against EVs, but (I’m against) the battery. For the next 10 years, even with some improvement, there may be just 10-15 percent improvement in density, in motorcycles you are squeezed for space. Unfortunately, there is a huge hype for the cars, which has heavily pushed up raw material prices by five or six times.”

However, the global chief of KTM is bullish on the mainstream premium two-wheeler market. He was in India for a roll out of the one millionth vehicle from Bajaj Auto’s Chakan factory. It took 12 years for KTM to reach this milestone. Pierer believes that the next one million will come in almost half the time. “We are doing about 1.5 lakh to 1.6 lakh units per annum, so the next million should happen in five or six years,” asserted Pierer.

In the calendar year 2022, KTM globally sold about 3.7 lakh units and India accounted for about 40 percent or 1.5 lakh units. On the future growth potential for India, the CEO said, “We have finalised our plan for 2023 and we have budgeted for India to grow by 10 percent.”

A varied choice of products
The CEO hinted that the third generation of street bikes from KTM are on its last leg of development and the bikes are likely to hit the global market in the next six months – “The model may make it to India and Europe almost at the same time,” he added.

The largest European bike maker has sustained its market outperformance with the new range of products and some of the strategic inorganic moves have also started bearing fruit. 

The Austrian two-wheeler major has carved itself a differentiated portfolio over the last few years. The Swedish brand Husqvarna has turned into a modern retro brand gaining traction amongst the youth, whereas the KTM is solidifying its position as a strong sports and street bike maker. 

While India has turned into a hub for sub-400 cc bikes, CF Moto, its Chinese alliance partner, focuses on the mid-segment of 700-800 cc. The company recently entered into a strategic partnership with M V Agusta, whose portfolio will sit right above all these brands.

Pierer says the company has very recently taken charge of the operation and distribution responsibility for M V Agusta and once the brand settles down in 2023, the high-end Augusta brand may make it to the Indian market.

“Surely, we will bring M V Agusta into India, but we have just taken control, so we are at the beginning stage. By 2024 it will be possible,” he added.

Apart from sourcing bikes, KTM also plans to source parts for its global operations. Pierer says the company has been looking at expanding its sourcing from the Asian continent with parts being sourced from the markets of China, Taiwan, India and Vietnam. In India, Endurance and Varroc are key strategic sourcing partners for the global operations and Pierer assured the company will continue to explore more opportunities in the future.

“I think we can double our sourcing from India in the next two years. In fact, Endurance may supply suspension for the premium electric bicycles in the future,” he said

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