Italian superbike maker Benelli QJ has partnered with Adishwar Auto Ride India (AARI), a subsidiary of the Hyderabad-based Mahavir Group for distribution in India. Since 2019, AARI has been managing Benelli’s Completely Disassembled Operations (CKD) at its local facilities. It reassembles the individual parts of the bikes that were dismantled in the country of origin. Benelli-India has three own concessions and 42 associated concessions across the country. It currently has five bicycles. In an exclusive interview, Vikas Jhabakh, Managing Director, Benelli India, shares with Bizz Buzz the company’s expansion plans, new launches, more dealerships, festival offerings, road safety aspects and overall demand for super bikes in the country
Tell us about Benelli’s trip to India? How has the brand been revamped after the merger with AARI of the Mahavir group?
Benelli started his trip to India in 2016 and had to hiatus for eight months in 2018. The brand restarted operations under AARI in early 2019. Benelli under AARI made many customer-centric changes such as cost reduction service, extended warranty period, DIY service sessions and improved workshop contact points across India.
Towards the end of 2019, Benelli had launched the Imperial 400, our retro-classic offering, which helped the brand become more accessible to a wider consumer base. Over the past three years, we have also established a strong cycling community for Benelli in India and have run treks and training programs for our clients across India.
Currently, how many variations are available in showrooms across India? What is the price range? Which is the best-selling bike among them all?
We have five motorcycles in our product line that serve different segments including Imperiale 400 (Retro-Classic), Leoncino 500 (Neo-Retro Scrambler), TRK 502 (Adventure Touring), TRK 502X (Off-Road Adventure) and the Recently launched 502c (Urban Cruiser). Our offers fall within the range Rs2-5 lakh.
In terms of sales, our retro-classic offering, the Imperial 400, tops the charts. We have also introduced a limited time offer, where customers can take advantage of a low EMI offer of Rs 4,999 per month, with funding up to 85% on the Imperial 400, to make it more accessible to customers. clients.
Can you tell us about the new variants to come? When do you plan to launch the new bikes in the country?
We are always exploring the opportunity to bring the right products to the Indian market. We are currently working closely with our head office and plan to launch 2-3 new models on the market by the end of this fiscal year.
Tell us about the dealer network across the country. Are you planning to increase the number of resellers?
We currently have 45 dealers in 41 cities. Yes, we plan to open 14 more by the end of this fiscal year. We recently launched its 45th exclusive showroom in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Our customer service philosophy is in tandem with the principles of our dealership partner Bhubaneswar SR Automobile.
Our employees are trained to provide the best customer experience. Our main motivation is to ensure that 3-S facilities (sales, service and spare parts) are present all over India to generate a strong brand presence. Our dealership is not just a place to serve customers, but a platform for enthusiasts and brand purists to come together and interact with other like-minded riders.
How many showrooms and service centers does the company have? Are service centers and spare parts available in every city where you have a showroom?
We have three brand-owned dealers and service centers. They are located in Hyderabad, Kochi and Pune. Yes, we have service centers in every city where we have a showroom. Spare parts are also available at all service centers.
Are there challenges in CKD operations? Are you looking for government support when importing products?
In the CKD format, the technical assembly and quality control process is crucial. Fortunately, these are topics where we have invested in technical manpower and machinery to keep things under control.
External challenges include the delay of international freight and increasing logistics costs. However, these are macro challenges and will hopefully subside over time. We have always worked closely with the government and will continue to do so in the future.
Since most of your bikes are in the 300-500cc category, what is the demand for super bikes / high end bikes in the country?
The Indian bicycle market is very concentrated between the 125 / 150cc categories. Improving India’s overall macroeconomic conditions (GDP and per capita income) combined with easy access to global cultures (via social media and electronic media) has redefined the standard of living of the people. This in turn creates a demand for premium bikes in India.
We are seeing many upgrades from the 125 / 150cc bike category towards higher cc purchases. We believe this trend should continue over the next few years. The market between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 10-12 lakh constitutes the market for high-end motorcycles, which amounts to around 30,000 units per year. This market is expected to grow 20 to 25% per year.
Do you see fierce competition from other manufacturers in this category? What steps are you taking to dominate the market?
The market for super bikes / premium bikes consists of players like Royal Enfield, Jawa, KTM, BMW, Kawasaki and others. Many global brands exist in India as they recognize the potential of this segment in India. At Benelli we have always focused on offering good value for money products and we will continue to work according to this principle for our future products as well.
Our clear goal is to work around the theme of customer satisfaction and to create a community of cyclists for Benelli across India. We also plan to expand our brand to serve more cities. We recently expanded the assembly capacity at our Telangana plant to 40,000 units per year, up from 7,000 units per year previously, setting up new assembly lines to meet future demand.
What are the safety measures taken by the company to prevent accidents on Indian roads? Can you enlighten us on the braking system and the suspension?
We regularly conduct information campaigns on our social networks to make our customers aware of the importance of road safety. All of our motorcycles have dual channel ABS function which prevents the wheels from locking up during emergency braking, this function is crucial to prevent the motorcycle from skidding.
In our dealerships, we make sure that no test drive is performed without essential protective equipment. In addition, we have also organized training programs, through professional and experienced riders, for our customers to familiarize them with safe riding techniques.