India's largest mass two-wheeler majors Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAL) and Hero MotoCorp are stepping into a new battleground of premium lifestyle motorcycles with the launch of British brand Triumph and U.S. brand Harley Davidson, respectively. Both the biggies priced the iconic brands aggressively to lure buyers who have limited options in the segment barring Royal Enfield.

The share price of Eicher Motors, which manufactures Royal Enfield, has crashed over 8.8% in two days - Tuesday and Wednesday, thanks to the launch of Harley Davidson and Triumph. At the same time, Hero and BAL share prices increased 8.4% and 6.3%, respectively.

Rajiv Bajaj’s BAL launched Triumph Speed 400 and Scrambler 400X in India on Wednesday at its Akurdi plant premises in Pune. The Speed 400 version has been priced at Rs 2.33 lakh, but offered ₹10,000 discount to the first 10,000 customers. The company has received over 2,500 bookings for Speed 400 within a couple of hours of the price announcement. Bajaj plans to roll out 5,000 motorcycles a month from its second plant at Chakan, Pune. “The 5,000 production target will be achieved within 3-4 months,” said Rajiv Bajaj.

On the other side, Hero will manufacture Harley Davidson at its plant in Neemrana, Rajasthan. It is being introduced in three variants, with the Denim version priced at ₹2.29 lakh, Vivid at ₹2.49 lakh and 'S' at ₹2.69 lakh. Hero Motocorp chairman Pawan Munjal said that the company would bring a wider range of premium bikes for Indian motorcycle enthusiasts.

Bajaj and Triumph took five years to fine-tune the products for Indian roads since they decided on the venture in 2017. Speed 400 will be available in the market by July end, while Scrambler 400X by October. Bajaj will open 120 showrooms of Triumph in 80 cities by March 2024. Both the new products have been conceived and designed in Hinckley, the headquarter of the motorcycle maker in the U.K. Triumph, which was established in 1902, sold 83,389 motorcycles in 2022. It targets to reach a milestone 800 dealers across the world in 2023. It has manufacturing facilities in Hinckley, Leicestershire, and Thailand, in addition, to complete knock-down facilities in Brazil and India.

Bajaj is already producing another premium brand KTM from its second Chakan plant. The plant has the capacity to produce 25,000 bikes a month. The Triumph motorcycles produced in India will also be exported. Rajiv Bajaj said Triumph may have 10-15% business overlap with KTM, but it will have 100% overlap with Harley and Royal Enfield.

Royal Enfield is working hard to expand its portfolio of offerings for countering the entry of global giants. The company plans to launch 13 new bikes in the coming years, with a four-bike-a-year approach. It is likely to launch the new-generation Himalayan 450, Shotgun 650, Bullet 350, 450cc Roadster, and the fully-faired Continental GT 650.

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