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Considering electric option for mass segment 2-wheeler market in India: Benelli

Benelli India currently sells a range of premium motorcycles in 300cc to 600cc range priced between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 6.2 lakh

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Italy, Motorcycle, Benelli, Electric option, Two-wheeler, Eco-friendly mobility, Vikash Jhabakh, Electric two-wheeler, Geeley, Hyderabad, Benelli Leoncino

Italian motorcycle maker Benelli is looking at electric option to enter the mass segment of Indian two-wheeler market in the wake of government's push for eco-friendly mobility. The company, which re-entered India in January this year in the superbike category, had earlier planned to enter the mass segment with lower engine capacity conventional motorcycles, besides making the country a base for export of such two-wheelers.

Benelli India currently sells a range of premium motorcycles in 300 cc to 600 cc range priced between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 6.2 lakh. "We were also exploring the opportunity of entering the mass segment with having India as a base from where we could export. It was something in research stage," Benelli India MD Vikash Jhabakh said.

While doing the research, he said, "It became quite obvious that the Indian government saw the focus elsewhere in India's future with respect to electric mobility. They have also given certain timelines to go fully electric".

Thus, Jhabakh said, "We also think now our investments are better off into the electric space. It seems to be the obvious future for the Indian market."

When asked to elaborate on the EV plans and timeline for product launches in that space, he said the company has moved its market research focus to electric two-wheeler to find "what are the possibilities for Benelli going ahead". Asserting that Benelli already has electric mobility solutions which is being used in certain parts of the world, he said the company could launch electric two-wheeler in India in next three years, depending on how the government policies evolve in India.

"We already have electric scooters by Benelli selling for quite a few years. Also, Benelli being owned by Geeley, electric R&D and know-how from their four-wheeler business exists within the group," he added. "The question really is about where the government goes with its policies and how quickly," Jhabakh said.

He said the company hasn't changed its plans for manufacturing in India nor put on hold investments in the country. Instead, he said Benelli India is scaling up its production capacity at its Hyderabad plant to 20,000 units a year from 7,000 units per annum with a potential to take it up to 40,000 units. The company launched its bike Benelli Leoncino powered by 500cc engine priced at Rs 4.79 lakh (ex-showroom).

Jhabakh said three more bikes will be launched during the remaining part of the year to take the total number of Benelli models in India to nine and three-four models will be launched next year. In the next one year, the focus of the company will be on 500cc and below, he said, adding it was looking to enter the 250cc segment in India. By the end of 2020, he said, Benelli India could have a range of bikes with price starting at Rs 2 lakh.

So far, the company has sold around 1,000 units since January this year, Jhabakh said, adding it was looking to end the year with a total sales of around 2,000 units

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