India’s second-largest 2-wheeler manufacturer Bajaj Auto, which was in the last decade one of the world’s largest scooter makers, has decided to exit from the category altogether. Its new target: to be the world’s top motorcycle manufacturer.
The 54-year-old company, whose Chetak and Super brand of scooters were ubiquitous on Indian roads in the 1970s and 1980s, on Tuesday said it will stop making Kristal, the only existing scooter in its portfolio by March 2010.
“We are not developing scooters anymore as our focus remains on motorcycles,” said Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Auto. “If we want to be known as a specialist in making motorcycles on a global scale, we have to make a sacrifice and this (scooters) is one of them. We have a bigger pie in motorcycles for the taking and a fragmentation does not help.”
This move is backed by a changing industry. From a high of 75 per cent share of the auto industry’s production in 1990, scooters have given way to motorcycles and account for a little over 20 per cent today.
“The global motorcycle market is around 30 million per annum and Bajaj is at a level of 3 million,” he said. “We can double and possibly treble our sales.”
The company’s aim to emerge as the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer would mean overtaking arch rival Honda Motor Corp which, at 7 million units per annum is world's biggest motorcycle maker. Ironically, while Honda with its collaboration with Hero Group in India was always ahead of Bajaj in motorcycles, it is also country’s largest scooter manufacturer filling in the gap left by Bajaj in that category in the last 10 years.