In 2018, Husqvarna will begin selling the Vitpilen and Svartpilen 401, both based on the KTM Duke 390, to customers internationally. Production will move to India next year, and by the end of next year, Indian buyers may also be able to buy these bikes. Now, a top Bajaj Auto official has noted that the Husqvarna branded bikes would sell more than those from even the established KTM brand.
Here’s what Mr. S Ravikumar, President, Business Development, Bajaj Auto Ltd, told BusinessStandard a while ago,
KTM was sharper in positioning. Husqvarna will appeal to a larger population to India, and we expect it to bring bigger traction than KTM. Husqvarna is a premium brand and there is no overlap or clash with Dominar or KTM. In fact, it complements our product range. We will do everything with KTM to make Husqvarna as big a brand as KTM. I do not think that there is a competition to Husqvarna in India.
Decoding what he’s said, here’s perhaps why Bajaj officials feel that Husqvarnas will sell more than KTMs in India,
They’ll probably be easier to ride.
The Husqvarna Vitpilen (a cafe racer) and Svartpilen (a scrambler) 401 promise street-oriented styling and ergonomics. Also, Bajaj and KTM may also work on the gearing of the bikes to make the power delivery less sharp, thus making these bikes more usable for everyday riders who spend most of their time commuting.
In contrast, almost every motorcycle from KTM is aggressive, in terms of power delivery, ergonomics (seating, handlebar-footpeg positioning, etc) and even styling. Perhaps, this is why a lot of commuters don’t opt for KTMs as daily bikes.
Retro bikes are big in India, very BIG.
For example, Royal Enfield, a brand that’s bought by people as style statements, commuter motorcycles and even long distance tourers. Retro is cool, and Husqvarna, like Royal Enfield is retro. Essentially, Husqvarna is the first brand in India that’ll offer retro motorcycles at a very affordable price tag (slightly higher than the current KTMs). If the brand manages to make inroads into Royal Enfield’s market (which is massive), it’s easy to see why Bajaj thinks that Huskies will outsell the KTMs.
And there’s no real competition.
Yes, apart from Royal Enfield, nobody does retro in India, and at the price point Husqvarna is set to be positioned. And royal Enfields aren’t half as modern as the bikes from Husqvarna. So, Bajaj’s Ravikumar is right while saying that the Husqvarna brand will have no real competition in India as it’ll sell tech-packed bikes packaged in a retro form.