Jan 14, 2008

Auto Expo 2008: Bajaj-Kawasaki

Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Bajaj made the Kawasaki announcement at the Auto Expo. CBUs are coming. After spending the last two years categorically denying any interest in the CBU market, Bajaj are taking the first steps. And they weren't completely wrong either. Bajaj will bring CKDs and assemble them at Chakan for Indian sale, which will give them a massive duty advantage. At the Auto Expo, Bajaj showed a number of models that they are considering for Indian launch, including the Ninja 250, ZX-6R, a Vulcan, the ER-6n etc. The official line, again, is that the response is being judged and by June, we should see the results of the crowd reaction. I get the feeling, though, that the we will definitely see the Ninja 250 in June, followed by a second Kawasaki early 2009. Given that most manufacturers are starting with their flagships – near unobtanium – it would make sense for Bajaj, the essence of affordable performance – to offer the Ninja at a realistic price that you and I can afford without a year of dreaming and scrimping on costs. A 30 bhp, Indian-assembled sports 250 twin for Rs 2.5 lakh? I think it might work really well. Of course, the touring crowd will be interested in the simplicity and versatility of the ER-6n, but I have a feeling Indian enthusiasts are yearning for engines wrapped in glossy plastic first, so you're going to have to wait a little bit. Again, Kawasaki officially says big bikes coming June 2008, no word on which models.
Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Bajaj Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Here's the press release

Bajaj and Kawasaki to bring Big bikes into India.

Bikes to be retailed through Bajaj Probiking Showrooms
Ninja 250 among the bikes to be retailed

11th January 2007, New Delhi: Bajaj and Kawasaki today announced an agreement to bring in Kawasaki big bikes into India. This is in continuation of their strong partnership from the mid 80’s when the first technical collaboration for motorcycle development was signed. This technical collaboration which continued since then, went a step further in 2004 when Kawasaki commenced distributing Bajaj bikes in the Philippines.

Now the partners bring Kawasaki big bikes to India.

Amongst the bikes being considered for launch is the recently launched Ninja 250. This product designed by Kawasaki for the United States, Europe and Japan is powered by an eight-valve DOHC liquid cooled 250 cc fuel injection engine developing 30 PS at 10,500 rpm. Combined with the 6-speed transmission the Ninja 250 is a matchless performer. In addition to the Ninja 250, other big Kawasaki bikes that are being considered for the domestic market were on display at the Bajaj Presentation in Hall no 3 at the Auto-Expo in N. Delhi. These include the Sports Roadster the ER-6n, Super Sports bikes the Ninja ZX-6R and the Z1000, and the Vulcan Cruiser.

The Kawasaki bikes would be retailed through the chain of hi-end Bajaj Probiking showrooms. The company had kick-started the Probiking initiative in 2005 with the launch of the Pune showroom. Today ten Probiking showrooms are operational with presence in all major markets with ten more to go on-stream by end of Fiscal 2008. Designed for professional bikers the showrooms house state-of the art interactive terminals and offer prospective “Probikers” a chance to test-ride the bikes on specially designed Indoor Dynamometers.

Kawasaki, Japan will also provide the necessary service training and parts back-up to ensure that the hi-performance bikes are in peak condition and fully live up to the expectations of the Probikers.

Mr. Shinichi Tamba, President of the Kawasaki Consumer Products and Machinery Company comments, “ India is a very important market for KHI and Bajaj Auto is a strong partner. The Indian market is in the cusp of progressing to big bikes and Kawasaki is highly regarded in this segment. Soon the “flying K” and the “Kawasaki Green” will scorch the Indian roads.”

Commenting on this effort, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto said, “ Both Kawasaki and Bajaj have synergized their strengths to widen the portfolio in respective markets. The domestic consumer can now experience the power of big biking while the Kawasaki customers in the Philippines are already experiencing the range of Bajaj products for the past few years. We are in discussions to extend the Philippine business model to other countries as well.”

The Good times are indeed rolling for both Kawasaki and Bajaj.
All images: Kawasaki Heavy Industries

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