Mar 9, 2007

Who will break the mold?

I met up with a few of the Indian motorcycle industry greats from the fourth estate and got talking. While trying to look informed and a man of considered, and weighty, opinion, I grasped that the discussion was not only about motorcycles, but also about what was going to happen to us in the coming days in India.

The consensus was that the Industry was in a product innovation slump of sorts. The picture I get is of a herd wildebeest, all gathered at the edge of what appears to be a deep stream. Every now and then, one of them takes a brave step forward. Okay, just shuffles forward. And then, someone else outdoes him by stepping another few millimeters into the water. At this rate, it will take years for the herd to get across.

So who's gonna break the mold? I must explain at this point that I am using the American spelling of mould because I somehow associate 'mold' more with the green stuff that grows on old break. Although both mold and mould mean format also. But as usual, I digress.

So who's gonna break the mold? The unanimous agreement was that Yamaha would break the mold. As an aside, the Yamaha shutting shop was ascribed to some jackass who got left out in the restructuring or some similar thing and decided to create a bit of a scene for the company. I am wagging one finger at this person (whoever he is), and you should be able to guess which one's wagging. Anyway, I digress some more. Yamaha, the discussion highlighted, is the company that has the means and the motive to break said mold. They are desperate enough to look at borrowing something spectacular from their considerable, formidable international line up and the new management is certainly not shy. The other prospect is Suzuki. It's a dimmer prospect, but if their first products' reception is anything to go by, they'll be desperate soon too. Which essentially, also says (without saying) that Honda, Hero Honda and surprise, Bajaj will not break the mold. Inch up, inch up will primarily remain their game unless someone else, yes, breaks the mold and gets them to change strategies.

And now that we're on the subject. The other thing that became clear is that Bajaj's product strategy is good, but in the long run, their quality levels, especially when you talk of mechanical bits needs to climb steeply and fast. I believe an or else was leveled... on behalf of the customers. TVS, on the other hand, were patted on the back for being a methodical manufacturer. They are admittedly a bit slow, but the group agreed that this would pay off in the long run. Interesting discussion, I gathered, so I thought I'd post it up.

More posts on Yamaha here


vibhu said...

Yamaha ???

You got to be kidding if people are betting on Yam.

If it is Yam, then probably they got new management.

Here's something which happened around 4 years back. We had a . On the way we met 2 gents who were in Yamaha bangalore - handling the region. We talked to them about all the problems with yamaha and why none of us had a yam ( eliminator, pulsars, cbz). They promised to talk to us more and get us to meet their superiors.

Nothing. Just Nothing happened. We called up many times - but they were always very politely busy with something or the other.

4 years later - nothing.

No, if yamaha wants to do good, they need people at the helm who can think disruptive. Till that time Hritik flinging mud from a perfectly tarred road will be all that we see.

rearset said...

Yes, yes that's why the excitement. The chap at the helm right now, One Tomotaka Ishikawa is a fully disruptive influence. He talks the right language, is a go-getter sort, very non-Japanese in his quick decisions, in his spontaneity and even in his ability to hand out totally against protocol sound bytes.

The other reason for the betting on Yam is that Ishikawa understands the seriousness of the situation. And trust me, if there's one person I've met who I think call yank Yamaha out of this mess. This is the man.

road-yo said...

What about all those new manufacturers coming in ..... Xoom from Xenitis & Mahabharat(!) from the Saleem group .... are they going to do anything new or tread the oft-trodden path?

The BATFAN said...

As & when it happens ... I a sure a good lot of Indians will take the plunge and it will prove to be a profitable return for the manufacturer who decides to set a new cast. But the important point is does the current Indian law allow manufacturing or assembly of *such* performance bikes in India. That may be one of the major deterrents stopping the global Japanese trio.

In a way India may not be ready for this with all its reckless losers on the road who may be potential customers for such bikes. And in a way all the passionate motorcyclists will always suffer because of these few.

rearset said...

You think the new manufacturers are coming here because they intend to break the mold? Maybe. But the only mold they're gonna be breaking is the price one. 25,000 buck 100cc commuters is where they're gonna be at. That's part I. Would you buy a 650cc Chinese bike for 1.5 lakh if one were launched? I dunnno about you, but I would not.

Indian laws have nothing against the big bikes per se... as far as I know. However, we do have the tightest emissions norms on the planet (tighter than California, I'm told). That is a threshold that requires crossing.

Undoubtedly, there will be people who can afford the bigger bikes who will not have the sense of self-preservation or -restraint and will eventually end up becoming rather uncomfortably intimate with the scenery. Think Darwin.

The BATFAN said...

how many bikes on the street meet these emission norms one year after sale and how many of the owners actually do an emission check on their bike every one year.

If this is the only rule stopping manufacture then why is the import of the same bikes allowed. Are those who drive these bikes paying the fine for the higher emissions of the bikes they own.

When will we have some sense in administration.

road-yo said...

Valid points bro.

Monto tried that low cost 100 cc thing 2-3 years back. AFAIK, their bikes came with remote starters for around 35k, but didn't sell well at all.

As for the 1.5 lakh 650 cc, ummm, I could give that a thought .... I mean, all the Comets sold out didn't they .... at a time when nobody even knew Hyosung. Okay, there's this difference between Chinese & Korean tech, but still, making a 650 cc isn't a joke. By the way, do the Chinese really have a 650 cc in their markets?

Anonymous said...

What karizma lacks is power.only 17hp compared to pulsar 200's 18hp.
And rear tyre is not exciting .it is less in width.
Remember Honda CBR 250 has 40hp at 14000RPM.Susuki bandit 250,yamaha fzr 250 all have 40hp.