You may call it the Nano of motorcycles. Japanese two-wheeler giant Yamaha on Tuesday said it is developing a motorcycle that will be the cheapest in the world with a price of around $500 (Rs 27,000). This bike will be made in India at the company's fifth global research and development centre being set up here.
HT had first reported the story that Yamaha was developing such a product last year, in its edition dated May 23, 2012. The company plans to make India its global hub for developing low-cost bikes, which will be exported to countries in Africa and Latin America.
Its R&D centre, Yamaha Motor Research and Development India Pvt Ltd (YMRI) - established at Surajpur in Uttar Pradesh in February - has already started the work on developing the product that will be first launched in India.
"Our objective is to develop the lowest cost model in the world and lowest cost parts. Our target is to develop a bike at around $500 (about Rs 27,000) for both India and the export markets," said Toshikazu Kobayashi, managing director, YMRI.
"We will launch the bike in India (but) there are also other markets like Africa and Latin America where such bike can be sold," he added. "We will export the product to such locations in future."
The new product is central to Yamaha's strategy to play a more significant role in India's significant commuter segment.
"We have been focussing on sporty, stylish and performance bikes in India so far," said Hiroyuki Suzuki, CEO, India Yamaha Motor. "Now we are looking to increase our presence in the commuter segment. Developing the product in India will give us a substantial cost advantage and enable us to price it competitively."
Yamaha is looking to sell 710,000 motorcycles and scooters this year, including 210,000 as exports. It had sold 490,000 units in 2012. Market leader Hero Moto Corp sold 6.1 million units in 2012.
"Our long-term target is to sell 2.8 million units by 2018 and 1 million units in 2015, which will include exports," Suzuki said.
Though a launch timeframe was not announced, the bike will have at least a 100-cc engine, as Yamaha says smaller engines create balance problems. Traditionally, it takes at least 2 years to develop a new two-wheeler.