Two-wheeler companies are bending their backs to get a slice of the lucrative cruiser-touring bike segment which is where Royal Enfield remained nearly unchallenged.
Pune-based motorcycle specialist Bajaj Auto is understood to be working on a bigger and more powerful Avenger, its only cruiser model, to take on the Royal Enfield range.
"The Avenger is a very strong and old brand for us. And there is a good amount of brand recall for it. We have been working on an upgrade for the Avenger but we will have to take a call on this at a later stage, we have still not decided anything concrete," a senior executive from Bajaj Auto told Moneycontrol.
Royal Enfield volumes have grown at a compounded annual rate (CAGR) of 50 percent in the last six years. Last year, the company clocked volumes of 6.6 lakh units while in 2012 its volumes stood at 1.13 lakh units. The Eicher Motors-controlled company is investing to expand capacity to 9 lakh units to meet demand.
One of Royal Enfield’s products – Classic 350, which contributes 70 percent of its monthly volumes – does not have a direct competitor. Bajaj Auto, the country’s fourth largest two-wheeler maker, had launched and positioned the Dominar 400 as an alternate to the Royal Enfield product line.
Launched in December last year Dominar has not had the success expected from it but sources say its 400cc engine can be used for powering the next generation Avenger. However, for this the platform of the Avenger may have to be suitably altered. The Dominar uses a 375cc, 4-valve, single cylinder engine equipped with three spark plugs generating peak power of 35bhp and top speed of 150 km/hr. Current generation Avenger is available in three different forms – Street 150, Street 220 and Cruise 220 – with two engine forms.
Launched in 2001, the Avenger started production in the same year as the Pulsar, the most successful motorcycle brand from Bajaj Auto. At that time the cruiser market was nearly non-existent. Yamaha followed suit only in 2003 with the Enticer, a small 125cc cruiser for the budget buyer.A bigger capacity Avenger will push the model into the league of the Royal Enfield, UM Motorcycle and Hyosung, all having cruiser bikes in the range of Rs 3 lakh and below. While Suzuki entered the segment with the launch of Intruder 155, other two Japanese giants Honda and Yamaha are expected to debut in this segment over the next 2-3 years.