Ducati sees India among top five markets: MD Sergi Canovas

Mumbai: Italian superbike maker Ducati expects India to feature among its top five global markets “in the long-term”, said Sergi Canovas, managing director (MD), Ducati India Pvt. Ltd.

Ducati India, which is owned by Audi AG, a member of the Germany-based Volkswagen Group, aims to aggressively expand with the launch of two more motorcycles in 2018. It had entered India in March 2015.

The company will launch a more powerful variant of the sports adventure bike Multistrada 1260 in July, which comes “with improved touring capabilities”, said Canovas, adding that the new Scrambler 1100, which will be launched later this year, will be a “post-heritage bike with an engine above 1,000cc”. The bike will open up a new segment in India.

While an emission norm-compliant Monster 821 was launched in early May, a refresh of the high-performance sports bike Panigale V4 made its way into the country in late January.

“We continue our strategy to bring in as many models as possible, so that we can offer whatever the customer wants. Our entire range of 27 models is available here,” he added.

According to Canovas, Ducati also plans to expand its footprint by adding one dealership each in Chennai and Hyderabad during the September quarter, taking its presence to nine Indian cities.

The company expects to clock higher sales this year, compared to a “strange” 2017, if there are no disruptions. Ducati will go full throttle with its full “range of key products”, especially the new Monster 821. The earlier Monster model had to be phased out because it did not meet the Bharat Stage IV emission norms introduced on 1 April 2017. Canovas, however, did not share the sales numbers for 2017.

The company does not have any plan to set up a manufacturing and assembly facility in India. Ducati motorcycles are imported from its Thailand facility, which caters to the entire Asia Pacific region. Canovas said importing from the Thailand is “the best solution as of now”, in light of the sales at a marginal 1,000 units in 2016.

However, he said India is “a huge potential market” and local operations would have to be established “sooner or later, as it is just a question of time and conditions”.

“Biking in India is a passion, not a simple commute. This gives us a completely new opportunity, which no other market in the world is giving right now,” he added. The huge population and rising purchasing power have resulted in “very positive” expectations.

However, since the luxury bike segment (above 500cc) is still at a nascent stage, with sales falling 11.51% year-on-year to just 6,682 units in FY18, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures (Siam), Canovas believes his most important task is to woo more first-time buyers.

Ducati has also partnered with Volkswagen Financial Services to offer affordable finance for the purchase of its motorcycles, with the Monster 797 being offered at a 0% interest rate. Close to 60% of Ducati India’s sales came through this channel last year, said Canovas.

India’s broader motorcycle industry grew 13.69% to over 1.26 million units in FY18.livemint


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