Having stamped its dominance in the Indian car market, Suzuki Motors is adding power to its two-wheeler business and working on a new India plan. The company - so far a marginal player in the two-wheeler market - is planning to assemble 400-600cc bikes in India, that could see prices of power bikes come down to Rs 4-5 lakh and make them more affordable for those who love hot wheels.
Suzuki Motorcycle India V-P Atul Gupta told that the company would shortly be sending some of the bikes to Indian vehicle certification agency Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Pune, for homologation. "The homologation process is likely to take between three to six months and we can expect some of these bikes possibly by Diwali," he said.
The Japanese auto major is looking at taking the completely-knocked down (CKD) kit route which would nearly halve the duties, against the 100% import duty on fully-built units.
Though small in numbers, the market for 500cc motorcycles could expand in coming years as income levels go up and manufacturers like Suzuki start local manufacturing that would offer the best-in-technology products. At present, Royal Enfield is the sole manufacturer of 500 cc bikes in India.
The company could get models like GS500, GSR600 and RMZ-450 from its international stable. Suzuki India has already brought a few models of its legendary 1300 cc Hayabusa for display which might also hit the roads along with its 1600cc B-King (priced at Rs 10-lakh plus).
Gupta said government's move to relax certification process for 800-cc plus vehicles (by accepting certification from EU against existing policy of only from the country of origin) would also help in launch of these bikes in India.
But mass market is the one which is going to be bread and butter for the company, like any of its competitors. Suzuki has lined up two new models in 2008, primarily targeted at the urban markets. While one will be in the 150-cc segment, the other could be a premium offering in the 125-cc segment. It is also looking at launching a 200 cc bike, though Gupta said a final decision would be taken closer to the launch.
A key element of Suzuki's plans - which includes doubling of investment and production capacity by 2010 - is the expansion of sales network. Gupta said, it intends to set up a network of 400 outlets over the next three years, compared to 140 stores at present. And, during this period its investment could reach Rs 700 crore while the Gurgaon facility could be churning out 4 lakh two-wheelers by 2010, compared to 1.7 lakh at present.
Analysts said, Suzuki is looking to position itself as a premium technology brand in India before flooding the market with its products. Gaining a foothold in India is a daunting task for any company as the Munjal-Honda JV, Hero Honda, and Bajaj Auto commands for a majority share of the market.