Triumph could finally launch bikes in India by end-2013
When we first saw the Triumph line-up of motorcycles to be launched in India at the Auto Expo 2012, we and most motorcycle enthusiasts, were understandably excited. Triumph was, at the time, supremely confident and bullish on their India plans, and announced a full complement of seven motorcycles with indicative prices. Of particular note were the Bonneville and Street triple: both were expected at Harley-beating prices of under Rs 7 lakh. At the time, Triumph expected to have an assembly operation ready "by June 2012". Headed by ex-Royal Enfield man Ashish Joshi, things were optimistic and it looked like Triumph were about to turn the big bike business in India on its head.
Triumph's moves since then have ranged from somewhere between confusing to invisible. We've heard nary a peep of their India plans recently, whether they were setting up assembly operations to sustain their announced pricing, or if they had representation in India at all. The last time we called and spoke to their media representative, the company didn't even revert with a "no comment". We had to borrow a privately-owned Bonnie to do a review. Then there was the time that their India CEO quit before anything concrete had taken place. Not very confidence-inspiring.
Triumph's trajectory has been particularly puzzling seeing that Harley-Davidson have followed a similar route to market as Triumph spoke about at the Expo, and there's no doubt of their success in India. Harley today locally assembles nine of its fourteen models in India and is by far the largest selling big bike in the market.
Triumph's announced pricing and line-up at Auto Expo 2012
Auto Expo 2012: Triumph Motorcycles
|Bonneville||Rs 5.5 lakh|
|Street Triple||Rs 5.75 lakh|
|Daytona 675||Rs 7 lakh|
|Speed Triple||Rs 8 lakh|
|Tiger 800XC||Rs 11.4 lakh|
|Storm||Rs 17 lakh|
|Rocket III||Rs 22 lakh|
This weekend, however, we've heard some interesting things about Triumph and their plans for India. Company officials have been visiting India and have been busy talking to potential dealers all strictly need-to-know. This is quite the opposite of their transparent and high-impact modus operandi during the Expo. Understandably, by playing their cards close to their chests, Triumph want to avoid any further embarrassment.
The big question is whether Triumph will stick to the originally promised, and rather exciting prices for their products. We believe that they will stick to their announced pricing as an introductory offer to maintain goodwill and perhaps repair some of the damage that has been done this past year. However, the dollar situation being as it is, this introductory pricing is unlikely to be offered for very long or to many customers. Expect prices to rise quickly after launch.
Whether or not Triumph will assemble bikes in India at launch also remains a question. Unless they've managed to setup assembly operations in secret (an unlikely scenario), the company is 12 to 18 months away from such a facility. Which leads us to believe that their first products will likely be CBU units. Triumph could import key models as CBUs and offer them at introductory prices, also testing the waters for future CKD plans.
Triumph has a plant in Thailand, and India has a free trade agreement with that country. Importing parts from Thailand and assembling bikes here is the most cost-effective way for Triumph to do business, while maintaining competitive pricing. This is what Bajaj does with the Ninja 650 as well.
Triumph has made no official announcements of their India plans as yet, but we expect a launch by end-2013.
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