Last Updated : Sep 29, 2018 07:38 PM IST | Source:

This week in Auto: Maruti Brezza gets 4-star rating in crash test; Royal Enfield gambles with 650cc twins

Here is the list of all major developments in the automotive space in the week gone by

Swaraj Baggonkar @swarajsb

With the festive season around the corner, automotive companies are getting busy with their launches — four of which happened this week. New models from BMW Motorrad, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari lit up the week. Niche bike-maker Royal Enfield too launched two new, long-awaited models, though not available for Indian buyers immediately. More on this later in the copy, but here’s the list of all the major developments in the automotive space in the week gone by.

BMW Motorrad launches F750 GS, F850 GS

BMW Motorrad, the premium motorcycle arm of German luxury car maker BMW Group, launched all-new F750 GS and F850 GS models in India, priced between Rs 11.95 lakh and Rs 14.4 lakh (ex-showroom). The two models will be available as completely built units (CBU) and can be booked at BMW Motorrad dealerships, BMW Motorrad India said in a statement.

Maruti Brezza gets 4 star safety rating

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, the country’s largest selling sports utility vehicle (SUV), has been awarded the second-best safety rating in the SUV category by Global NCAP. The people carrier Renault Lodgy scored a zero in the crash tests. The Vitara Brezza achieved a four-star result for adult occupant protection and two-star for child occupant protection.

Apollo Tyres shareholders raise red flag over VC reappointment

Institutional and private investors rejected the resolution to reappoint Neeraj Kanwar as Managing Director of Apollo Tyres at the recently held annual general meeting. Nearly 57 percent of the pack of institutional investors, which is made up of foreign and domestic players, rejected the resolution. In addition, nearly 49 percent of the non-institutional investors also rejected it.

Used luxury car sales rose more than 30%

Used luxury car sales in India rose more than 30 percent to around 60,000-70,000 a year last year, compared to about 17 percent growth in new luxury car sales to 40,000 units. The growth in sales of used luxury cars is, in fact, is faster than the overall second-hand car market, which has a growth rate of 15-20 percent.

Ferrari Portofino launched at Rs 3.5 crore

Ferrari’s replacement for the California T, the Portofino, has finally been launched in India at an ex-showroom price of Rs 3.5 crore. It is a convertible with a retractable hardtop and has more or less the same dimensions as its predecessor. Its interior has a 2+2 seating arrangement for four adults, a 10.2 inch touchscreen console and a wind deflector design that reduces cabin airflow by around 30 percent.

Royal Enfield launches twin new bikes

Leisure bike specialist Royal Enfield has launched two all-new motorcycles Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 marking its entry into the twin cylinder mid-capacity segment. The Interceptor 650 starts at $5,799 (about Rs 4.25 lakh) and the Continental GT 650 starts at $5,999 (about Rs 4.4 lakh).

Both bikes are presently launched only in the United States through exports from the Royal Enfield factory near Chennai and will be made available in India in a couple of months. As the ramp-up in production will be slow, availability of the two models is expected to be restricted until March. India prices will be revealed at the time of commercial launch but market sources are expecting the two to be priced below Rs 3.5 lakh. But will this gamble pay off for Royal Enfield?

The two bikes mark Royal Enfield’s entry into the mid-capacity range (600cc-800cc), which has remained ignored by several international two-wheeler giants, including Harley Davidson and Triumph. The global two-wheeler market is majorly divided into small capacity (100-250cc) that is sold in developing markets such as India and 800cc and above for the developed markets like US.

Royal Enfield hopes to cash in on this white space and it has started with retro styled, World War II-era themed bikes that were a rage in the US and European markets. The Classic 500 Pegasus Edition, for instance, is a tribute to the original Flying Flea motorcycles that served the British Army during the World War II.

The Interceptor 650 styled as a modern classic roadster is inspired by the 1960s Interceptor which Royal Enfield claims has a huge fan-following in the American west coast. The Continental GT 650 draws inspiration from the 1950s and 1960s café racer culture.

These bikes are very different in character and riding performance compared to modern day race inspired machines from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, that are available in the similar price band. There is no metric to ascertain the number of buyers willing to switch to such bikes from Royal Enfield from India or outside.

The two bikes are not the only experiment Royal Enfield has done in this segment. The 100-year-old brand had launched the Continental GT (with a 535cc engine) in 2013 which at that time was the biggest and most powerful Royal Enfield production bike.

The bike could not sustain the initial momentum soon after the launch and quickly became the poorest performing motorcycle in the Royal Enfield stable. The company finally decided to pull the plug on the model becoming the first motorcycle in recent years from Royal Enfield to be phased out.

The Continental GT 650 largely carries the same styling as the older version (now phased out) but with a new and more powerful engine.

Other recent launches of the company has not been runaway hits either. Off-road bike Himalayan, for instance, sells only under 600 units a month while the cruiser Thunderbird 500 clocks less than 400. More than 65 percent of Royal Enfield’s sales 68,000-70,000 monthly come from the Classic 350 alone.
First Published on Sep 29, 2018 02:55 pm
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