Features

In conversation with Ajinkya Firodia

Remember Kinetic, the Pune-based manufacturer behind the Luna and Kinetic Honda? They’re back in action partnering with MV Agusta, SWM and now classic British brand Norton. We sit down with MotoRoyale MD Ajinkya Firodia

As told to Sirish Chandran

The mass market just doesn’t work anymore because it’s such high volumes

Kinetic as a family have a legacy and an understanding of what two-wheelers are because we have done it for 40-45 years. Superbikes were a new and growing segment so I said why don’t we think of a multi-brand superbikes outlet.

MotoRoyale will go from three lakh up to sixty lakh price point

The idea is now to build MotoRoyale as a concept with these three and one other brand we may bring in. And it will cater to every type of person looking for an exotic Italian or British motorcycle. This really becomes a place where you can come and see what suits you, instead of having to go to five showrooms. Each of them are different because the Norton is a classic-looking British motorcycle, the SWM is a tourer and MV Agusta will always be a MV Agusta – the most premium, the most exotic sportsbike.

India can be a market that can do three to four hundred bikes for MV Agusta

Despite having a network of only four dealers currently and being priced where MV has always been priced, we were able to sell 120 bikes in one year with only one product and two CBU 4-cylinders. We are already doing SKD assembly on the three-cylinder bikes but we have just finalised our confirmation in order to implement a CKD for some of the models coming in. We are also launching a few new models. Strategically both of us have shook hands and this needs to be done somewhere in 2018. We have a beautiful tourer which is doing very well worldwide – the Turismo – we are targeting to start with that. We are also going to launch the Brutale 800 RR, RC and the Diablo Brutale. Then there are the limited-edition exotic kind of bikes like the special America version.

I am very clear that I do not want to not focus on Chinese products

We are very selective around which brands we are working with. We didn’t formally sign off till they made the 650 Superdual which is the first and only bike that we are going to launch. The Superdual by SWM is hundred per cent made in Italy. The engine is Husqvarna. We are looking at a very, very good pricing and will have CKD assembly. And they have plans to launch more bikes upwards and below that on the Husqvarna platform.

 Before signing the joint venture I had a total of three meetings

In the first meeting he [Stuart Garner, Norton Motorcycles CEO] said that we think we can make something big and interesting out of this. The second meeting I prepared a draft joint venture agreement and met him in the airport at London for two hours. The third was this picture you see in front of his house, a castle. 

We will have a limited edition all-British Commando limited to 35 numbers

It will be a special India edition that we will launch in March or April [2018] which will be CBU. All Nortons are very expensive. If you import a Norton it will cost you Rs 25 lakh or something but this one will not be so expensive because neither me nor Stuart are looking to make money out of it. So we will be offering at a price point that is just cost neutral.

 They will keep developing models and we will keep launching them in India

The way the JV is set up is that, it costs about ten million pounds to make a bike and they have already invested for the Commando and the Dominator about ten million pounds for the toolings, dies and all that. They have suppliers in England and Italy and they make their own engines. So all this including the IP and the testing and the development is already available to the JV. So that’s the major part of their investment. We are bringing our infrastructure, our dealership network all that kind of stuff, so that’s how it is. And all their future models will be available to the JV. The idea of the joint venture is to develop the motorcycle in India starting with the Commando and the Dominator, which will happen by the end of 2018. This bike will have all the key performance elements imported including the engine and the brakes but a lot of the smaller parts we will develop in India and assemble in India.

 Norton is developing a 650 and it should be very exciting

Manx is not on the horizon yet. I am pushing Stuart that we should do something with Manx because that branding is as big as Norton.

 We are looking for dealers   

We want to have before Norton comes in 12 to 15 dealers in India, minimum 12. We need Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata to come up. We want to have long-term partners who have the money to invest but also have the passion for superbikes.

 We will never chase 100cc volumes

You can have interesting scooters and MotoRoyale leaves the door open for that. I wish that Italjet Blaze or a Dragster could have been launched now, because the time of those bikes has really come. But you know that’s the past, I am passionate about scooters but as of now the market for motoscooters in India is almost nothing.

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