The ever-expanding Bajaj Auto seems to be on a purchasing spree. What began with the collaboration and introduction of Kawasaki in India, soon took the form of segment defining, power-spitting competition between Bajaj and the rest of the world.
The trump card that Bajaj had up its sleeve was multiple copyrights and patents it had acquired like the twin spark technology and underlit switches. This facilitated an unprecedented control for Bajaj over many aspects of motorcycling. Keeping up with their track record, Bajaj went on to introduce KTM to India, and consequently, the trendsetting RC 390 to the world. The RC 390’s launch in 2014 paved the way for a new segment of motorcycles up to 400cc.
While three of the big four Japanese brands -- Kawasaki, Yamaha and Honda -- responded spectacularly to the RC 390, most of the European biggies opted to stay out. Whether it was because their target audience is different, or because the European snobs found it too cheap to compete in a smaller category, Bajaj clearly took notice and decided to step in.
Volkswagen has been in stake sale talks in one of their subsidiaries for a while. This company turned out to be Ducati, the oh-so-popular luxury motorcycle manufacturer from Italy. Naturally, a bid like this caught Bajaj’s attention, and going by their natural instinct, they stepped in to crack the deal. Though the deal is on tenterhooks at this point, it is expected to eventually crack the deal and take over Ducati. If this glorious day ever arises, apart from the world going bonkers, there are a few important changes that Bajaj might bring about.
The first and most obvious change would be Bajaj lending its tech to the red monster. Like Bajaj gave underlit switches to KTM, it is expected that it will come up with a single cylinder bike like the immensely popular Pulsar series. Considering the fact that Bajaj itself sparked the 400cc competition, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Bajaj added Ducati to the roster. It remains to be seen if Bajaj would continue with Ducati’s legacy of super sport motorcycles, or it would delve deeper into the Italian beauty’s new vested interests: the off-road.
With bikes like the Multistrada and Hypermotard, Ducati is expanding slowly but surely in the off-road market. That, coupled with Bajaj’s immense credibility and service network, could mean a solid surge in the popularity of dirt bikes. Strangely enough, KTM has already ventured in the off-road market by modifying their flagship Duke 390, morphing it into a hardcore off-road machine. If Bajaj were to take over Ducati, it would definitely expand the segments to which Ducati caters.
Whether Bajaj cracks a deal with Volkswagen is yet to be seen. But if it does, we can we rest assured that we are going to have a barrage or motorcycles across multiple segments, and it could boost the Indian motorcycling scene by a tremendous amount. What’s wrong in wishing!