BMW motorrad’s Asia chief Dimitris Raptis shares the bike maker’s plans for India with t2

Vroom

By Abhijit Mitra
  • Published 8.09.18
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Dimitris Raptis, head of region Asia, China, Pacific and South Africa of BMW Motorrad, who is in charge of the Indian market, chats with t2 about his plans for India and what he expects from the market. Excerpts.

You’ve launched the made-in-India bikes now after showing them at the New Delhi auto show a couple of years ago. So how big do you think demand for them will be?

The expectation so far about the commercial success of the G310 worldwide has been met. We are very happy with the commercial performance of the bike. With India coming in, we are very happy about the demand we have. Also it was the right decision to extend our range to the 250cc to 500cc category.

You also have 750cc, 800cc and 850cc bikes. Do you plan to assemble them in India?

There are some ideas and we know that some of our competitors have local assembly facilities here. There is also some discussion about utilising our manufacturing base in Thailand and taking advantage of the free trade agreement between Thailand and India (to reduce the cost of these bikes). We have no concrete decision yet. But definitely the Thailand scenario is something that we will look at with more interest for the near future.

Where are the India-made bikes going?

They are being exported already. The plan was to use the partnership with TVS to export worldwide. So, mainly the bikes are produced here for export worldwide, to all our markets.

There is no market that has BMW motorcycles but does not have the G310 already.

With the 310s you have gotten into a fairly competitive segment with the KTMs and Kawasakis. Plus, you’ve got TVS that makes a bike fairly similar to yours. So why do you think people will buy the G310s and not the others?

First of all, the pricing of the bikes was done looking into our model range and the package we offer in this segment. Of course, we cannot be far away from competition. I think the price level we decided was the right one and it should bring the targets we have for India.

BMW Motorrad has not been in India for very long. How has the market response to your bikes been?

We have been here since April 2017. I think we have had a very good response from the market. Our dealer network is still in the initial stages and we want volume expansion and growth in dealer network to go hand in hand. We don’t want to push one thing or the other. Our main concern is to set up the business properly, make a profitable business case for our partners in the market, and then grow from there. So we don’t want to really push things, but we want to have sustainable growth over the years to come.

You have seven dealers in India right now. Are you planning for any more outlets?

We have a couple of locations that we are talking to. So we will have nine dealers by the end of the year. And that’s all for 2018. In 2019, we will see how the 310 and other bikes are doing and we’ll make plans for further expansion. We’ll look for interesting cities where we need to be, but for this year we are more or less covered.

There are big gaps in your portfolio between the 310cc and 750cc and again from 850cc to about 1,000cc. Any plans to plug those gaps?

We see a gap between 310cc and 750cc. There are some ideas. But there is no concrete decision yet. Not at least for the near future.

Any plans of doing an India-specific model?

In general, we do not make market-specific models. We might need to modify models to meet legal requirements in certain markets, but they stay more or less the same product. 

Which other markets would you like to get into after India?

Speaking of the 310, Asia and South America are very interesting for this kind of bikes. In the regions I am in charge of, I have some interesting markets. For us China is relatively new. We have not even been there five years. I see Thailand growing fast as well. So I would say that India, China, Thailand are similar in that they are emerging markets and growing fast.

How fast?

We have grown 13 per cent over the last year on the whole and these markets are growing much faster than that.

Which segments are growing?

The 310 helps a lot in all these three markets. There is a great demand for it, but also the bigger bikes above 500cc are pushing volumes.

THE BRAND’S NEW SHOWROOM IN CALCUTTA

At Bengal Motorrad, the biggest section is meant for the display of motorcycles ranging from the 313cc bikes to the 1,649cc machines.
A cool set of motorcycle pictures brightens up the sales consultation area.
Directors Adarsh Tulshan (fourth from left) and Atul Makharia (sixth from left) with the Bengal Motorrad team.
There is a range of biking gear such as riding jackets, pants and helmets, as well as branded merchandise like caps and T-shirts available.
The showroom will stock some very realistic and detailed scale models too. These two are models of the latest G310R.

Pictures: Arnab Mondal