It’s barely been one
year since you launched two new motorcycles from the UM stable. What’s been the
response to your motorcycles in India?
The experience so far has been wonderful. It has not been a
cakewalk for us. We took a lot of feedback from consumers, journalists,
dealers, etc and have continuously improved our products. In the last one year
we have sold over 11,000 motorcycles which is an achievement for a newcomer.
There has been a lot of competition and we respect competition. Our attempt is
to give more than what competition is offering. That is what has kept us ahead
in this niche market. We have done well and with the new two bikes we have
launched (Renegade Commando Classic and Mojave) we hope to do better.
Do you think this
300cc cruiser segment is the perfect segment to be in?
Yes, I feel there is a huge consumer segment, the aspiration
consumers, who want to upgrade into a segment with bigger bikes. Affordability
is a crucial issue in this cruiser segment and our bikes are best where a
consumer can afford to own a premium bike and also enjoy the feel similar to
what the big bikes give. We also have plans to get into higher cc and lower cc
products. In the next one year you will see at least two new products coming
from our stable, one a bigger cc motorcycle and one a lower cc segment.
two-wheeler industry is witnessing changing trends with increasing
scooterisation and the share of commuter motorcycles decreasing. What are your
views on this?
Because of the rapid urbanisation in the country, the demand
for scooters is increasing. The scooter market is going to grow further. The
commuter biking where one goes from Point A to Point B, is changing in favour
of passion biking. The passion biking is more about weekend biking, about
brotherhood, riding on highways, etc. The trend is definitely changing. For the
next decade or so you will see consumers moving into higher cc bikes,
especially the segment we are in at present.
With your 60 odd
dealers at present, your company must be focussing on the major metros. What
about tier II and III locations?
It’s a myth that the demand for our kind of bikes come only
from tier I cities, even the ones in tier II and III are digitally connected
and are aware of what we have to offer.
There is a huge demand coming from smaller markets too. Currently we
have 70 dealers and soon we shall have 100 dealers. Our strategy will be move
to the tier II and III cities and towns.
You are in a segment
where there are two big two-wheeler manufacturers present. How do you deal with
We respect competition and both the competitors you are
indicating to have been in India for the last four or five decades. They have
got high brand visibility. I do not think we are competing with them. We are in
a very niche segment. When we did our surveys with potential consumers, they
told us they love sports bikes. So getting into this segment was a huge gamble.
A lot of motorcycle makers in India were hesitant to get into the cruiser
segment. We took this gamble and we are trying to meet the aspirations of the
consumers. There is enough space for us to grow. The two competitors are doing
well and we too can do well.
Is the UM Lohia Two
Wheelers plant in Kashipur in Uttarakhand fulfilling all your production needs?
So far we have been doing good together. We have been making
bikes here at this plant. It has a capacity of making 5000 motorcycles a month.
There is enough space to expand further. We have been talking about setting up
a new plant in South India with the same partner. We are looking for space
there to cater to markets in south and west. This partnership is flourishing
and is doing well. Most of the components we are getting for this motorcycle
are being sourced from south and west India. Besides, 60pc of our bikes are
being sold in south India while north and east India cater to 40 per cent of
our market. It would make more sense to have
another plant in south India because this facility will exhaust its capacity by
next financial year. This could take one or one and a half years and it would
be a greenfield project.
Can you reiterate how
many motorcycles you have sold to date?
We started selling these motorcycles from October 2016. It’s
almost a year now. There were a few occasions like the transition from BS III
to BS IV and implementation of the GST, where we had to put a brake. GST
implementation was a big jolt to us as we were in the excise free zone. But
with all this we were able to sell more than 11,000 bikes. That is a
commendable thing for a company which started from scratch. We are very
confident of the UM brand today.
The new motorcycles
Renegade Commando Classic and Mohave that you have launched are avatars of the
existing Commando model. Was there a need for these two new bikes?
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