Italian bike manufacturer Benelli’s foray into the Indian market hasn’t quite been a smooth one ever since it arrived in the country in 2014. But Benelli India is looking to put the initial struggles behind them and is keyed up to make a mark in the Indian two-wheeler space. Benelli formed a partnership with Hyderabad-based Adishwar Auto Ride India – a subsidiary of Mahavir Group – to run the Indian business.
It may be worth noting that Benelli India earlier this year rolled out two 500cc adventure-tourers - TRK 502 (Rs 5 lakh, ex-showroom) and TRK 502X (Rs 5.40 lakh, ex-showroom) in India. The company also offers two 300cc bikes - TNT 300 (ABS), and 302R (ABS) as well as one 600c bike - TNT 600i for the Indian market. Benelli India has also drawn up plans to roll out Leoncino 500, Imperiale 400 and 502C Urban Cruiser in the coming years. Understandably, the company is excited about making a big impact in the highly competitive Indian two-wheeler market.
Vikas Jhabakh, Managing Director, Benelli India, said its focus is on catering to the Indian customer requirements. “Globally, Benelli makes motorcycles and scooters ranging from 100cc to 1,000cc. Like we have positioned ourselves differently in different markets, we have positioned ourselves in India in the super bike space (250cc and above segment) because we understand the market and business dynamics of the mass market segment and how competitive it is.”
Premium or luxury bikes are gaining popularity across India and it is a crowded marketplace dominated by the likes of Harley Davidson, Triumph, Ducati, BMW and Royal Enfield. So how is Benelli India gearing up to take on the collective might of these players? “Look, customers are paying more than ‘normal’ for super bikes since there are not a commuting bike and that is why we are putting high focus on solid aftersales support over the last six to eight months. Good, fast and easy-to-access aftersales support are what customers want and we are striving to offer the same to our customers, Jhabakh observed.
In order to create a ‘wow’ feeling in its aftersales service, Benelli India has changed its service schedule from four months and 4,000 kms to six months and 6,000 kms across all its products. The Benelli India MD said such an initiative helped in reducing the service ownership of customers substantially. “If you are servicing Benelli for 1 year it will cost Rs 100 earlier and now it will now cost Rs 70, which effectively means the service ownership of a customer gets reduced by 30 %. Mind you, this is carried out without compromising on service quality.” Further, the company is also offering a five-year standard unlimited km warranty across all Benelli bikes that ensure a complete peace of mind for customers.
Benelli India is according high priority towards creating a riding culture in the country. “A lot has been spoken about the riding culture of Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield. We want to create a riding culture of our own in terms of setting up riding clubs across the country focussed on not just riding but also on safe riding, Jhabakh noted.
He said India is a young market with respect to super biking and the need of the hour is to offer an educative experience to Benelli family members. “In India, bikers who move from 150cc to 200cc or even 500cc or 600cc have not given the required education to use these bikes. Benelli India is conducting driving sessions for new buyers within a month of buying it. In the absence of any awareness new buyers tend to push the limits of bike that could put them in danger or bring a bad name to the rider community.”
On the growth prospects front, Jhabakh said the 250cc to 800cc segment will grow at 25-30 % over the next two years, while the segment above 800c will witness muted growth. He pointed out that much of the growth will be driven by Tier II and Tier III cities. “People from Tier II and Tier III cities are more educated, have more access to finance money and better access to information via internet,” he pointed out.
Although Beneilli is not in the mass market segment (above 150cc), Jhabakh has no doubts that this segment has immense growth potential. “I feel that a lot of penetration is still left to happen in the mass market segment. India is a huge country – so many places do not have electricity and roads and bikes have to come up in these places. India’s growth story has a lot of steam left in it.”