Bajaj Dominar 400 to take on Royal Enfield: Rajiv Bajaj

By Anoop Menon | Updated:Tue, December 13, 2016 3:54pm

The Bajaj Dominar 400 will launch on 15 December, and MD Rajiv Bajaj gave details about how the powerful sport tourer will go against the Royal Enfield brand.

With the launch of the Bajaj Dominar 400 just two days away, it would be interesting to know what Bajaj Auto's plans are with the upcoming motorcycle. Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj shed some light on the Dominar 400 strategy, and it is a bold one. The Dominar 400 is definitely going to be an important product for Bajaj Auto that will determine its future steps. It marks a complete shift away from the Pulsar brand strategy that the Indian two-wheeler maker has been following for all these years. The Dominar will mark the start of a completely new brand now, and Bajaj's entry into a completely new category in the Indian automotive market. It is quite a leap, but one that has been in the books since the Pulsar CS400 concept was shown at the 2014 Auto Expo. According to the MD, the Dominar 400 will complete directly in the space occupied by Eicher Motors' iconic motorcycle brand Royal Enfield.

That is quite a challenge, given Royal Enfield s heritage pull and die-hard fan following. But Rajiv Bajaj is confident. We have had some very strong products and brands such as CT100, Platina, Pulsar, Avenger, V and KTM. This is the next big one from our stable, he said. He goes on to explain that 94% of motorcycles sold in the country right now are under the INR 1 lakh price line. Of the rest, 5-6% bikes are priced in the range of INR 1 lakh to INR 2 lakh, and Royal Enfield holds a massive 80% market share in this space. The Honda CBR 150R, Yamaha YZF-R15 and the KTM models make up the remainder. Above the INR 2 lakh price line are the more performance oriented superbikes from companies like Ducati, Triumph and Harley Davidson. Also Read: Ducati Scrambler gets price cut of INR 90,000

The Dominar 400 will be positioned in a segment that is currently dominated by Royal Enfield by a huge margin. The segment is a growing one too, with more than 60,000 units being sold monthly as Indians increasingly look at motorcycles as more than just basic commuters. In fact, annual volumes are expected to reach 10 lakh units in 2017-18. If the current market scenario continues, Royal Enfield will be the big winner in this segment. The Dominar 400 will, however, be coming in to disrupt the sector. As bikes become bigger, they turn more profitable, said Bajaj.

How will the Dominar 400 compete against the iconic Royal Enfield? If Rajiv Bajaj is to be believed, it is going to make its mark by offering the opposite of what Royal Enfield offers. He says, We live in a world of opposites and every mature segment is essentially a two-horse race. He notes that there are two top players in a market that take up 80% of the space, and suggests that the Dominar 400 will cater to an Indian audience looking for something different from the Enfield stable. Where the Royal Enfield offers nostalgia, heritage and a retro and relaxed feel, the Dominar 400 will likely offer technology, performance and the experience of a modern, muscular tourer.

Another big hook for the Bajaj Dominar 400, according to the MD, will be its affordability. At Royal Enfield, a 350 cc motorcycle starts from INR 1.1 lakh to INR 1.3 lakh. The more performance-focused KTM, however, offers its motorcycles from INR 1.5 lakh onwards. In the category of around 300 cc machines, Bajaj/KTM does not have any bike in the range of INR 1 lakh to INR 1.5 lakh. Rajiv Bajaj may be looking to fill this gap with the Dominar 400.

In simple words, the Dominar 400 will be positioned as everything the Royal Enfield is not. While the Royal Enfield offers heritage styling along with not-so-modern technology, the Bajaj Dominar 400 will offer modern performance, styling and dynamics in a muscular package. We are making a modern machine, not a heritage brand. It is truly smart and handsome. Our bike is big, bulky and chiselled. It is all muscle and no fat which was our guiding line in design. If Royal Enfield is a Sumo wrestler, ours is a heavyweight boxer, says Bajaj.

At the same time, the Bajaj Dominar 400 has been designed to offer the same things as a Royal Enfield. Bullets, Classics and Thunderbirds have long been considered India s standard touring motorcycles, but the Dominar 400 has been positioned as a modern touring machine similar to the Mahindra Mojo. It will be positioned at a premium over the Royal Enfield stable too, with an expected pricing in the range of INR 1.6 lakh. The Bajaj Dominar 400 is going to use the same 373 cc engine from the KTM Duke 390 in a different state of tune, with an expected power figure of 34.5 bhp. It will get a six-speed gearbox. Rajiv Bajaj expects the Dominar 400 to generate the same brand loyalty and pride that the Royal Enfield commands today.

Published:Tue, December 13, 2016 3:50pm | Updated:Tue, December 13, 2016 3:54pm


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