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Kawasaki & Bajaj call it quits over their 7-year tie-up

Kawasaki and Bajaj have ended their seven-year sales and marketing alliance in India following deepening of ties between the latter and its Austrian partner KTM.

Bajaj Auto has had an alliance with Kawasaki for the sale and after sales service of Kawasaki motorcycles through its Probiking, a premium bike dealership network, since 2009. These Probiking dealerships were later converted to KTM dealerships.

During the last many months Japanese-giant Kawasaki, which has had a technical alliance with the Pune-based company since the mid-1990s, has been busy setting up its independent line of dealerships in the country.

These Kawasaki showrooms, which stand at 12 as of today spread across most of top Indian cities, sell 14 Kawasaki products ranging from 112cc off-road bikes to 1,500cc super sport race bike. These are sold under the brands Ninja, Versys, ER, KLX and Z.

“Going forward, Bajaj intends to focus on the KTM brand. Kawasaki and Bajaj have mutually arrived at an amicable decision to end their alliance in India from April 1, 2017”, said a statement from Bajaj Auto.

“Please be assured that those who have purchased a Kawasaki motorcycle before April 1, 2017 shall also be provided with the same level of after-sales service as shall be provided to those customers who purchase Kawasaki motorcycles after April 1, 2017”, said a Kawasaki statement.

Austrian bike maker KTM, in which Bajaj holds nearly 50 percent equity, has managed to come of out of the blues riding on products jointly made by the companies. Many of these products such as the Duke 390 and RC 390 compete directly against those of Kawasaki such as the Ninja 300. All these products were sold in the same showrooms thereby giving rise to product cannibalization.

The Bajaj – KTM partnership launched its first co-developed product, the 200 Duke, in 2012.  Over the last 5 years, KTM achieved a CAGR of 48 percent and sales volume in FY17 is estimated at 37,000 units. Now the Duke & RC models are being offered in 5 stock-keeping units through the over 300 KTM dealerships in India.

Though Bajaj and Kawasaki never had an official joint venture in India the two companies enjoyed extremely friendly relations since mid 1990s. Together they developed several products which had the Kawasaki branding. These included KB100, Calibre, Challenger, Wind to name a few.

This is also the time when Bajaj, the largest scooter manufacturer of that time, was steadily increasing focus on motorcycles. The company eventually launched the Pulsar range in early 2000 which helped Bajaj cement its position in the bike segment. It later completely exited the scooter market.

Bajaj and Kawasaki will continue to maintain their co-operative relationship across the rest of the world for current and future businesses. The two companies had an alliance in Indonesia where Bajaj bikes were sold through Kawasaki dealerships.