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Bajaj Auto MD says Harley Davidson crossing Laxman rekha with 250cc motorcycle – Walking on thin ice

Earlier this week, Harley Davidson finally confirmed reports that they are indeed working towards launching a new motorcycle in the 250-500 cc segment. For this, they are looking for a local partner, who is yet to be finalized. Though reports say it could be India’s Hero MotoCorp.

Entering the 250-500cc segment means Harley Davidson is going to enter the territory of Royal Enfield, who enjoys a market share of 90% in this segment (not only in India, but globally). It is this segment, in which Bajaj Auto is also interested. They launched the Dominar, and later partnered with Triumph to launch motorcycles in this segment. So will Harley Davidson’s announcement of entering this segment prove a threat to the plans of Bajaj Auto?

Bajaj Dominar and Harley Davidson 750. Image – Indian Stuff / YouTube

Well, if we are to believe Mr Rajiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto, Harley Davidson does not prove any threat to Bajaj’s future plans. As per CNBC TV18, Rajiv Bajaj said that Harley’s plan of entering sub 500cc segment was like they were crossing Laxman rekha (a reference made to Ramayana). Basically, crossing laxman rekha means you are entering a danger zone.

Rajiv Bajaj said, “To me, quite frankly, being a big loud motorcycle is intrinsic to Harley. A 250 cc is pipsqueak and I am not very worried about that right now.” Pipsqueak meaning – a person considered to be insignificant, especially because they are small or young. In a away, Bajaj considers Harley’s move into the 250cc segment as insignificant.

He also added – “One can never underestimate any competitor and certainly not someone like Harley, but I will stick my neck out and say this, I have learned, even from our own failures that the minute a brand steps out of its ‘Laxman rekha’ it’s on very thin ice.”

Royal Enfield is the king in the segment.

There could be several reasons for Rajiv Bajaj to downplay the response that Harley Davidson’s 250-500cc bikes will garner. Some think it could be due to the increased competition which could affect the market share of Bajaj Auto, KTM, Husqvarna and Triumph. It could also be a valid point, especially with the Street 750 gaining much importance in the country, the buyers will not take kindly to a 250cc motorcycle which will not be as powerful in size or as loud in stance.

It may be remembered that while Bajaj Auto noted immense success where its Pulsar range of motorcycles was concerned, its entry into a lower segment with the Discovery range did not get them much response. Bajaj Auto also introduced low cost commuter bikes like the CT100 which also failed to get much attention unlike that seen in the case of Hero Splendor and Passion.

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