Kawasaki made its entry into the Indian market when it joined hands with our very own ‘Hamara Bajaj’ in 2009. This tie-up not only helped Bajaj spread its wings, Kawasaki too started selling and servicing their 650cc and below products in the Bajaj operated pro-biking showrooms in the country. Kawasaki also assembled their CKD motorcycles, at the Bajaj Auto’s facility in Chakan.
But now, the two companies have split, and Kawasaki is operating under its own subsidiary, India Kawasaki Motors (IKM). Until now, they used Bajaj’s Akrudi plant for their operations and now, IKM has set up a plant in Chakan which is already begun assembly and production of all its product in the Indian line-up, effective since July 1, 2017.
A 100% subsidiary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Japan, the company has now set up its own unit in Chakan that will cater to the assembly process of all its CKD models and also arrange for maximum localisation in its future developments. On the same page, Kawasaki has been busy setting up its own dealer network, and it is on its way to set its foot firmly in the country.
Kawasaki will move all its sales to its dedicated showrooms selling all their motorcycles in the Indian product line-up. Currently, only Tier-1 cities are getting these showrooms, and this will be a hinder to Kawasaki owners at Tier 2 (or worst Tier 3) cities and towns to get after-sales. The split has resulted in Kawasaki outlets being reduced to just 12 from 160.
Although, assembly of their CKD products were still being undertaken at Bajaj’s new facility at Akurdi which was, nonetheless, handled entirely by India Kawasaki Motors. This notion has changed and IKM has stopped using Bajaj’s facility since they set up its own assembly unit in Chakan, Pune. This is in the direction of the company’s plan to go entirely solo in the Indian motorcycle industry.
Ever since the “break-up”, Kawasaki has been making meets end with standardising its operations across various disciplines ranging from local assembly, parts procurement, quality checks to retail and aftersales services. All of this will make Kawasaki set a firm foot in the country’s ever-growing premium market and will mark a significant milestone into the company’s future developments, be it localisation and even manufacturing the entire motorcycle.
They want to first start with increasing the localisation of the 300cc and the 650cc twin-cylinder engines from 20 percent to 60 percent and might start by incorporating smaller components into the engines which will lead to more critical parts shortly.
This step will also bring down the costs of the bikes under the green umbrella which will definitely boost sales for the company that is seeing a flat growth this year. They want to also increase their dealer network by 30 to 40 percent in the coming year. Kawasaki currently sells the updated Ninja 300, Z250, Ninja 650, Z650, Z900, Z1000 and Z1000R.
And last week, the manufacturer launched the latest edition of the Ninja 1000 that came aggressively priced at Rs. 9.98 lakhs (ex-showroom, pan-India) and has also decreased the price of Z900 by ₹ 1.3 lakhs. This is because the company followed up with the SKD (semi-knocked-down) route that pulls lesser tax than the CBU (Completely-built-up) units.
In the near future, the company also plans to launch the Versys 300, Versys 1000, Ninja ZX-10R and the Ninja ZX-14R on the similar lines of SKD. They also want to open at least 3-4 showrooms by the end of this year.