Perhaps the most interesting meeting at the Auto Expo was this. No, I've no interest in the Tata Nano. I'll say only this, everyone who moves from a motorcycle to the Nano does me a favour (one day, I'll explain that... remind me). Bajaj, as you know already own 20.5 per cent of KTM, and the plan is to move this up to just past 25 per cent, which will make the Indian company the second largest stake holder in the Austrian bike major. KTM is currently the second largest motorcycle maker in Europe, and its core competence has been off-road bikes. However, they began to seriously work the roadbike arena a few years ago, and I must say the progress and success are admirable. KTM also started making quads (ATVs) and also make one car (the CrossBow). KTM also own WP, the suspension company that almost always supplies KTMs. So, what do they have for us? Well, come June, Pro-Biking showrooms will wear Bajaj's blue, Kawasaki's green as well as KTM orange. I loved seeing the KTM Ready to Race adverts on Delhi bus stops. Yamaha aside, this is the bike maker I root for.
KTM will launch the Duke 690 and the RC8 in June in India. The 690 will be homologated and assembled here, while the RC8 will not require homologation since it displaced 1200cc. There seems to be no word on whether the RC8 is assembled or CBU'd. If it is the former, expect the R1 competitor to be a fair bit lower in price tag terms. Something that will force the Japanese to also start assembling their big bikes here.
The Duke 690 has a 652cc single cylinder engine making 65 bhp. Which means displacement similar to the F650, but will a big step up in power terms. Being a KTM, expect typically aggressive power delivery, a super-crisp throttle response and total, utter reliability. The big single will play on its torque, actually, rather than power. Peak power is a hefty 67 NM delivered at a middling 5500 rpm. This the European spec, and I don't expect it to change for India by a big margin. Underseat exhaust, upside down forks, trellis frame, Supermoto (690SM) derived WP suspension and all are present. Expect the 690 Duke to be a storming motorcycle that will make a lot of owners very happy. The whole shebang weighs 149 kgs without fuel (but all fluids), which is 6 kgs or so more than the average Indian 150 WITHOUT any fluids in them. What would the cost be? Let me speculate and say, $9500 converts roughly to Rs 4 lakh, plus duties and taxes, hmm.. Rs 6-6.5 lakh.
The RC8, of course, is KTM's new flagship, which has only just been released. The engine is a 1190cc V-twin making 155 bhp, which is plenty powerful. No one's ridden it yet – but it's a KTM, expect jaw-dropping reviews and ability. No price yet, but again, it should be in the normal superbike price bracket. If the price is in the $12,000 range (normal litre-bike price), then the Indian price could be between Rs 12 lakh (CBU) and Rs 9 lakh (CKD).
The side benefit of this tie-up is that Bajaj, suddenly have a huge source of tech know how that they can tap into. Expect WP suspension, or inspired by WP suspension in next gen bikes and so forth. KTM and Bajaj are also working on a joint set of platforms, starting with a 125-180cc single-based motorcycles as well as a 250-400cc single-based platform. The idea is to create KTM-branded, entry-level machines that the Austrians can use to tap the 125cc motorcycle market (getting huge because of congestion charges in European cities and the ability of car drivers to ride 125cc motorcycle without additional licencing requirements). These platforms should bear fruit in 2010, when they will get launched in India. And be built for export as well.
Finally, Rajiv Bajaj explained why the sportsbike was on everyone's radar as opposed to other formats. His response was simple. The sportsbike is the purest performance motorcycle. In India's case, it's the correct motorcycle to establish what is possible. Once that is done, other formats will follow.
Here's the press release
Bajaj Auto to launch KTM Bikes in 2008All images: H Mitterbauer/KTM Sportmotorcycles AG
Bikes to be retailed through exclusive Pro-biking Showrooms
KTM bikes for Indian market to be selected from those displayed at the Auto-Expo 2008
New Delhi, January 10, 2008:
Bajaj today presented a range of KTM bikes at its stall in the Auto-Expo 2008 some of which will be progressively introduced in the Indian Market. These models will be retailed through Bajaj’s Probiking showrooms in key markets across the country.
The vehicles 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 were the rally tested 690 Supermoto, the superior street bike the 690 Duke, the powerful 990 Adventure, the light and agile 250 EXC-F and the ultra-precise performer the 990 Superduke.
Bajaj Auto also announced the increase in its stake in “KTM Power Sports AG”, Europe’s second largest sport motorcycle manufacturer to 20.89 %. Earlier Bajaj had taken a 14.5 % stake in KTM through its 100% Netherlands subsidiary-Bajaj Auto International Holdings BV with Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto Ltd. being inducted on the board of KTM. Bajaj has funded the current stake increase from its internal accruals. The co-operation agreement with KTM covers product development, technology, vendor sourcing and distribution.
Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Stefan Pierer, CEO, KTM said,” We see this as a long-term partnership with Bajaj Auto & we are very positive about it. This cooperation with Bajaj Auto is a great opportunity to strengthen the KTM Group in its sustained growth strategy in a global environment.”
Mr.Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto Ltd., added” This partnership is also another step in our globalization strategy. KTM’s sharp brand positioning, differentiated designs, and hyper performance have inspired us to increase our stake in this participation. We are delighted with this opportunity to co-develop a range of products for both KTM and Bajaj brands and also excited by the prospect of introducing KTM products to India and South East Asia, as also to access the European market via KTM”
The alliance with KTM covers joint development of street bikes for both Indian & overseas markets. The partnership will also jointly develop a high-performance, water-cooled engine platform for 125 and 250 cc bikes. Bajaj Auto will also take up distribution of KTM products in South Asia.
Through this cooperation with Bajaj, KTM would extend its product portfolio for the future with a 125-ccm street product line, in addition to the present 1190-ccm, 990-ccm and 690-ccm platforms developed and manufactured in Austria.
About KTM Power Sports AG
KTM Power Sports AG is a worldwide leading manufacturer of power sports vehicles. With Products – in Motocross, Supermoto, Enduro classes and with On road bike products like Super Duke KTM is a strong brand in Europe and The United States. KTM has won more than 136 World Championship titles and seven times the Rallye Paris-Dakar. The operationcore company, KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG, develops and manufactures competition off-road and street motorcycles. KTM-Sportcar AG builds the light-weight sports car X-Bow, KTM’s first step into the automotive field.
With more than 1,930 employees, the KTM Group earned revenue of Euro 566.1 Mio. (INR 32 Billion) in fiscal year 2006/07. Over 23 sales subsidiaries distribute KTM products to their 1,400 independent KTM dealerships worldwide.
KTM is a Vienna Stock Exchange listed Company with market capitalisation of Euro 390 million (INR 22 Billion). KTM is a Group Company of Cross Industries AG, indirectly owned by & managed by Messrs Stefan Pierer and Rudolf Knunz. The Cross-group’s other businesses include racing motorsports systems, composites, etc
Further information about the KTM Group is to be found here
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