Potential Harley For The Indian Middle-Class: Rajeev Mishra, MD, UM India

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The upcoming 2016 Delhi Auto Expo will be an interesting event for more than one reason. There will be loads of automobiles to watch out for and new brands such as UM (an American motorcycle brand), will be launching a new pedigree of motorcycles for India.

In an exclusive interview, Rajeev Mishra, Director, UM Motorcycles India, reveals to DriveSpark UM's India plans and also a few other important details.

Why is UM focussing on the Cruiser segment?

After an extensive market study, UM has learnt that the middle-class biking enthusiasts on the lookout for affordable cruisers don't have a choice apart from a Royal Enfield or Bajaj Avenger.

American cruisers such as Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles are expensive, and so are the Triumph motorcycles manufactured by the British. Also, since the Cruiser market is huge, UM believes, the company has the potential to be a Harley-Davidson for the middle class.

Global Cruisers from UM: Renegade Commando | Renegade Sport

Is UM planning to foray into the Scooter segment as well?

First and foremost, being an American brand, UM wants to establish itself in the cruiser segment. The scooter segment, although an interesting market, UM feels that there are already well-established players in the market: Honda, Suzuki, Hero, Yamaha and TVS.

Global Scooters from UM: Powermax | Matrix

What about your Dual Purpose motorcycle range and are there any chances of UM offering this in India?

Dual purpose motorcycles have an opportunity too. But again, the drawback in India is, the majority look at motorcycles at daily commuters and not as a recreational automobile.

The Dual purpose motorcycle segment in India is far from developed, and UM Motorcycles is looking at exploring this segment, but not for another couple of years.

Global Dual Purpose from UM: DSR II | DSR | DSRX

How does UM plan to go about their business in India?

As far as dealerships are concerned, UM Motorcycles will have 40 dealerships at the time of launch, and our Indian partner Lohia Auto will manufacture the motorcycle in Uttarnchal, which will also create job opportunities in the region. The motorcycles will roll out from Lohia Auto's facility in Uttaranchal and to keep costs low, almost 60 percent of the parts will be locally sourced.

What is the USP and how can this American brand make Indian customers look away from tried and tested brands?

The answer is better performing, reliable and feature-rich motorcycles, and most importantly, give the customer an experience that he would not forget.

However, one important factor in the Indian market is the price. An affordable cruiser in the 300cc segment is the Bajaj Avenger, although just 220cc, its performance is applauded considering an Avenger 220cc is priced around Rs. 1 lakh on-road. On the flipside, Royal Enfield, which has multiple 350cc models like the Classic, ThunderBird, Electra, and the Standard have priced their motorcycles in the range of Rs. 1.25 lakh - 1.63 lakh on-road, and are still managing to sell with ease.

Recent developments at UM Motorcycles

UM Motorcycles showcased one of their upcoming cruiser model during the 2015 EICMA Motor Show. The model showcased was the Renegade Sport S cruiser, powered by a 279cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine. UM will consider bringing bigger displacement engines in the future, depending on the growth in India.

UM's foray into India with 300cc cruisers places them in a direct firing range of the world's oldest motorcycle maker, and the segment leader in India - Royal Enfield.

But, does that worry UM Motorcycles?

Rajeev Mishra points out: the company is in a niche of its own, and to UM, their competition is their benchmark standards they are promising to Indian customers. UM Motorcycle wants to outdo themselves regarding quality, performance and experience, instead of competing with anyone else.

Also, compared to other cruiser manufacturers in India such as Royal Enfield and Bajaj, UM Motorcycles are looking to offer customers a very different riding experience, with many innovative, and first-in-India features. "Our consumers will 'Ride The Difference' - be it styling, attitude, lifestyle or technology," says Rajeev Mishra.

DriveSpark Thinks! UM Motorcycles will add freshness to the cruiser segment, and Indians have been, will be and always be fascinated by cruisers and chrome.

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