UK-based Triumph said it has already developed a prototype, which has been undergoing several rounds of testing
It will take at least two years for the commercial launch of the first of several mid-capacity bikes that Triumph and Bajaj Auto are planning for India and global markets.
The two companies, who have been in talks for more than two years now, are expecting to sign a much-delayed formal agreement in December, a senior Triumph official told Moneycontrol on the sidelines of the EICMA event.
Steve Sargent, Chief Product Officer, Triumph Motorcycles, said, “We have been working with Bajaj (Auto) for a couple of years now and we are close to finalising an agreement with them. Our cooperation on product development has been progressing well.”
UK-based Triumph said it has already developed a prototype, which has been undergoing several rounds of testing. The initial design and styling of the bike is also in advanced stages. Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto, visited the UK in October to check progress on the product.
“We are very pleased about how the bikes are looking. Rajiv Bajaj recently came over to look at the progress and styling of the models. Bajaj was very pleased with what he saw,” Sargent said.
Triumph will not use existing bike platforms used by KTM, Bajaj Auto and soon Husqvarna. It has instead gone ahead to develop its own in-house vehicle and engine platform that was developed from scratch. Since Bajaj Auto already has a platform it was understood (but never officially agreed to by either side) that Bajaj-Triumph will use these platforms for its own bikes. Such a move would have saved fresh investments on a new platform.
In August 2017, Bajaj Auto and Triumph jointly announced their intention to build mid-capacity motorcycles for India and global markets. This non-equity joint venture will look to address growing demand for leisure riding, on the lines offered by Harley Davidson.
“This is a product in the 250cc to 750cc segment. It will be a one engine platform, but there will be different engine capacities catering to different bike styles. We have been discussing with Bajaj about what is the desirable specification. We agreed on what that would be in terms of performance, power and capacity. We know fuel economy is very important in India. Bajaj has a lot of knowledge about the Indian consumer, which they have brought to the project,” Sargent explained.Product details
Harley-Davidson is scheduled to launch its smallest and most affordable bike ever in China next year . This baby Harley will be powered by a 338cc engine and may come to India going forward. Triumph wants to challenge this baby Harley with the new range of bikes it is developing with Bajaj Auto. At present, the smallest Triumph bike on sale in India has an 800cc engine.
“We want to position the bike where we can hit maximum volumes,” Sargent stated.
Both companies are investing jointly in product development, but Bajaj Auto won't get use the platform to produce products under its own brand. The Pune-based maker of Pulsar and Avenger will get to produce the Triumph bikes from India (most likely from Pune).
When asked if Bajaj Auto can use the vehicle platform to develop its own product, Sargent said, “That’s not part of the agreement. The agreement is on an IP (intellectual property) basis. Bajaj Auto retains the IP that they have and we retain the IP that we have. There is a royalty element to the relationship. If they develop any products using their IP, they are completely free to do that, but if they were to use Triumph IP, then we would have to have a conversation.”Sales and exportsBajaj Auto will handle sales in the Indian sub-continent and in some export markets where Triumph does not have a distribution network.
The products will also compete in other emerging markets like Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and South America. These bikes will be exported to the US, Europe and China as well. Bajaj Auto has been exporting India-manufactured KTM bikes to the US and Europe.
Triumph is looking to tap into Bajaj Auto’s strength in Africa, where it is the top two in every market it operates in.In India these Triumph bikes will be sold through Triumph dealerships.