Interview with Shirish Kulkarni, chairman, DSK Motowheels
Tell us about the journey of DSK to DSK-Benelli in India.
It's been unique. We started off with a Korean manufacturer and today we are with an Italian giant. So all in all, it's a great experience. I think as DSK, our offering to the market is coming out in such a way where we've now got products at almost every level. Plus what DSK stands for is the service, so the customer service and the backend, that's where we are getting stronger by the day. And all our experiences that we gather from the car world, we are implementing in the bike world as well.
How do the Hyosung and Benelli brands sell together under the DSK family?
Frankly speaking, for us they are two different entities and they are both equally important. But of course, in terms of brand value they will have their own challenges in attaining it and also gaining market. But for us our focus is there - one team is handling Hyosung and the other, Benelli. There's no crossover at all, so we're keeping it separate.
Dante Bustos, global marketing director,Benelli; Shirish Kulkarni, chairman, DSK Motowheels; George Wang, board director, Benelli; Ugo Ciarlatani, consulate general, Italy and Stefano Mechelotti, tech at the launch of Benelli motorcycles in India
In terms of manufacturing you're going to take on most of Hyosung's manufacturing and these bikes are going to be assembled at your Wai plant. How much space do you have at the Wai plant? What are the installed capacities like and what's the plan forward?
Right now we can make upto 15 bikes - that's what we can do per shift, per day, managing both considering the numbers we're getting. In a year's time, we will have to move out. Either we take Hyosung out or we take Benelli out of that space but one of them needs to go to another location, so as of now we are stuck to 15 per day. We cannot expand it further. We can probably look at adding a shift but that's going to put a lot of pressure on us.
What are the dealership plans for Benelli and Hyosung?
For Hyosung, we already have 41 (dealerships) established and are planning a few more. With Benelli, we are starting with nine and we have got 11 in the pipeline, so by end of December, 2015, our target is to get 20 in the country. So hopefully we will be able to achieve it by that timeline.
Are all bikes going to come via the CKD route? Are there any plans for localising the process?
All (bikes) are CKD. As of now, there's nothing (in terms of localisation). We will probably work into brake system but nothing has been finalised right now. We're still working on it and hopefully, we will be able to, maybe, in a year's time.
Ultimately motorcycles that win in India are motorcycles designed for India and made in India. What are Benelli's plans in that sense?
Considering the way they are placed in China because they have a huge set-up there - personally speaking - I don't think it will be wise of them to move here and manufacture. But localisation is possible. They could work on certain items and look at how we can exchange and take some parts, supply to them directly from a local vendor. There's still a lot of homework to do. To be honest, we haven't started any planning. We have started discussions as to what needs to go where and hopefully about 12 months from today, we will be able to come to some conclusion.
What sales numbers are you looking at or targetting right now?
The target is 3,000. We've got 12 months for it and with another three-four models that we're targetting to bring in this year, I think it's achievable.