Apr 13, 2007

15 Bajaj Pulsar, an excercise in "Trial & Error"..??

My views on an Overdrive Magazine Article..

“Trial & Error”.. That is the title of the Pulsar 200 road test conducted by overdrive magazine (March 2007 issue). My first thought on reading the title was that the Pulsar 200 probably hasn’t turned out to be that great. But this feeling was totally in contrast with the one which I felt when I saw the Cover Page. The Cover Page of the Overdrive March 2007 issue had a photo of a rider on the Pulsar 200 along with the title, “The Best Pulsar Yet”.

The title got me interested and I wanted to know, what was the “Trial & Error” the article was talking about?

"The article states that the “Trial & Error” strategy of Bajaj has been extended to its premium “Pulsar” range.."

The explanation according to the article: The article gives the example how Bajaj initially launched numerous models, most of which were flops. The article though accepts the fact that this was natural as Bajaj was trying to become a Motorcycle manufacturer from a Scooter manufacturer. The article then gives the example how Bajaj in a bid to become the market leader, has tried to attack Hero Honda on its home turf, i.e. the 100 C.C segment by launching cheaper products and providing more features to little avail. And now Bajaj plans to quit the 100 C.C segment altogether and develop new products aimed at winning maximum market share.

The article further states that the “Trial & Error” strategy of Bajaj has been extended to its premium “Pulsar” range as well. The Pulsar 150, 180, 200 and the soon to be launched 220 seems to be creating sort of a muddle.

"Of course the author of the article has his own right to believe so and write about it.. But let me put my views now.."

My thoughts on reading the article: I am not totally convinced by the above argument. I agree that in the entry level segment (100 C.C), Bajaj has indeed tried every trick to remove Hero Honda from its leadership position. But I don’t really agree to the “Trial& Error” philosophy in the Pulsar range.

Of course the author of the article has his own right to believe so and write about it, which I totally appreciate. But let me put my views now.

My views: The 100 C.C Segment:

    Bajaj Auto: I agree with the author on this one. Bajaj tried to create a segment lower to the Hero Honda 100 C.C bikes previously with the “Boxer” and presently with the “CT100”. Bajaj also tried to give more value at the same price range as the 100 C.C Hero Honda bikes previously with the “Caliber” and presently with the “Platina”. Recently the prices of the Platina has been further reduced by Rs.3000. But one thing to be noticed is that the engine architecture used across these models has been the same barring a few tweaks.

    Verdict: Trial & Error using single engine architecture.

    TVS Motor: TVS motor tasted success initially with its “Victor” range. Slowly as the demand for the Victor dwindled, TVS tried a few variants of the Vicor, like the “Victor Edge”. TVS also burnt its fingers with its dud, the “Centra”. Recently the company seems to have found its focus by its “Star” series.

    Verdict: Initially Trial & Error; Seems to have found focus now.

    Yamaha Motors India: 100 C.C Yamaha have models like the “Crux”, “Crux--R”. The “Libero” (with the headlamp “Trial and Error”) and the present G5. None of them have managed to become best sellers. And since 2001, Yamaha Motors India has been incurring losses each year.

    Verdict: Trial & Errors have been costly for Yamaha India.

    Hero Honda: The 100 C.C models from Hero Honda have been the bread and butter models for Hero Honda till date. Majority of Hero Honda sales have come from these models. These models have enjoyed success right from the beginning. But look at the 100 C.C Hero Honda models till now.

      Hero Honda CD100
      Hero Honda CD100 SS
      Hero Honda Sleek
      Hero Honda Joy
      Hero Honda CD Dawn
      Hero Honda CD Deluxe
      Hero Honda Splendor
      Hero Honda Splendor+
      Hero Honda Passion
      Hero Honda Passion+

    Quite a long lineup I’d say. So is this “Trial & Error” by Hero Honda..??

    No, I’d say. Hero Honda is very much aware that they have a winner in its hands in the form of the 100 C.C Honda Engine. So with the limited R&D input from Honda (Hero Honda depends on Honda for R&D), Hero Honda has been quite shrewd and successfully created different segments with different price points aimed at different customers. All that using the “same” 100 C.C block..!! Sharing the same engine block across different models have enabled Hero Honda to control manufacturing costs and make huge profits.

    Verdict: Shrewd Marketing, definitely not Trial and Error (the 100 C.C engine has been always there).

My views: The 150 C.C (and Plus) Segment

    Hero Honda: The CBZ started the 150 C.C segment but Hero Honda had to stop production after a few years because the it could not compete in sales with the Bajaj Pulsar. A scaled down 133 C.C “Ambition” was tried using different headlamps. It’s production also had to be stopped. The “Achiever” was launched with a borrowed Honda Unicorn Engine. Even it wasn’t too successful. A new “Achiever” with alloys has been recently launched. CBZ was re launched as the CBZ Xtreme which essentially has the borrowed Honda Unicorn engine (tweaked for performance).

    Verdict: Definitely “Trial & Error”

    TVS Motor: TVS Suzuki “Fiero” which had a gem of an engine and gearbox had to be re launched as the TVS “Fiero F2” with slightly better styling. The “Apache” followed the “Fiero F2” with new 5 Gears and even better Styling. A new Apache is expected with (probably) a longer wheelbase.

    Verdict: Trial & Error but improving with every attempt.

    Honda India: Launched a “Commuter Friendly” 150 C.C Unicorn. Sales were way below Bajaj Pulsar and the TVS Fiero/Apache. Recently launched an alloy wheeled version of the Unicorn.

    Verdict: Still haven’t found the formula to success. Present cosmetic upgrade is nothing but “Trial & Error”.

    Bajaj Auto: The “Pulsar” will go down history as the model which resurrected Bajaj Auto. The “Pulsar” has given Bajaj Auto a new and confident identity. Since its launch the Pulsar has dominated the 150 C.C and above segment. It still continues to do so. The premium has higher margins compared to the entry level 100 C.C segment. So what is the rationale behind cluttering the market and confusing the customer by the following Pulsar models?

      Pulsar 150 DTSI
      Pulsar 180 DTSI
      Pulsar 200 DTSI
      Pulsar 220 DTSFi

    The answer can be found with the strategy adopted by Hero Honda with its 100 C.C series. Similar to how the 100 C.C engine is the Cash Cow for Hero Honda, Bajaj knows very well that the Pulsar is the Cash Cow for them. Using the same engine architecture like Hero Honda 100 C.C bikes, Bajaj is able to reduce manufacturing costs for the Pulsar range.

    Verdict: Shrewd Marketing like Hero Honda 100 C.C bikes but providing more value to the customer than just different looks.

Conclusion: So you see, I don’t really believe in the argument that the Pulsars are an exercise in “Trial and Error”. On the contrary according to me barring Bajaj every other manufacturer has been engaged in “Trial & Error” in the 150 C.C (and Plus) segment, including Hero Honda. Even Hero Honda follows a similar strategy with its 100 C.C models.

So why the Pulsar 150,180,200,220..??

These 4 Pulsars are like 4 Brothers, guarding their territory against intruders

    Pulsar 150: For gaining volumes and maintaining market leadership in India in the 150 C.C segment

    Pulsar 180: Important model for overseas market like Colombia, Indonesia. The 180 is exported to these countries.

    Pulsar 200: Provide slightly better performance compared to the Hero Honda “Karizma’ along with extra features like Oil Cooling, Digital Speedometer, Broader Rear Tyre, Split Seats etc. All that at a price tag of about Rs. 12,000-13,000 less than the “Karimza”.

    Pulsar 220: The flagship model for Bajaj.

Most importantly: With other bike makers getting interested in the 150 and above segment, these 4 Pulsars are like 4 Brothers guarding their territory against intruders.

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This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.


nilu said...

payeng, the article is "Trial and Error" and not "Trail and Error"!!

Payeng said...

Opps..!! Clumsy Me..!!

Corrected it now

Thanks Nilu.. By the Way, have you booked your Pulsar 200..??

nilu said...

yup!!i just posted you on orkut...should come within 15 days, blue!!!getting impatient!!!

Anonymous said...

hey payeng,
that's good one & the way of presentation too. bye the way in the last post i asked you about plans of BAL on "DUEL FUEL" technology but you didn't post anything. So really do you have any information on it.

Anonymous said...

hey payeng,
did u see the new p200 ad?..

Payeng said...

Hi.. about BAL going for dual fuel tech. I am searching for more info..

Will soon post about it..

No I have yet seen the P 200 ad yet.. It was supposed to be aired yesterday..

Is it out..??

Anonymous said...

yes the ad is out..heres the link..

Anonymous said...

overdrive magazine is a sell out....they are, it seems inclined in favour of Hero Honda.....best example is the pic of the tester doin a stoppie on the 200 and talking about the poor braking of the bike.....total stupidity....also check out their road test of the Super Splendour....full of utter non-sense

Anonymous said...

ur totally right man. overdrive is kind of pro-hero honda. every time they are recommending a hero honda to the readers. but the sales charts seem to be telling a different story than their comparison tests. on the show on aaj tak they said the new pulsar 150 won the shootout whereas in the article in the magazine the xtreme won the comparison. their pulsar 200 road test seems to be either financed by hero honda or been written by a hero honda staffer.

Payeng said...

Hey Guys,

I on my test ride I found the Hero Honda CBZ Xtreme to be a good bike..

But accusing Overdrive to be Pro Hero Honda would might be the same as someone accusing "me" in this blog to be Pro Bajaj..

Let's respect everyone's liberty to put forth their views

Awnish said...

great article dude.. u done a lot study on different players in bike market.. appreciate ur efforts.

Payeng said...

Thanks a lot Awnish for those encouraging words..

Mayannk said...

The article was really reality revealing

Gunawan MS said...

I must say, going with this Indian bike is a trial process for me, so glad that so far it hasn't turned into an error, hehehe. Actually, i haven't got the balls to really put the gamble back then, only buying a 2nd hand P200 bike (6000 KMs used), but money was and still is a big consideration, and it seems i have make out like a bandit with that decision, considering i only had to spend half the money needed to acquire a new Honda Tiger Revo 200 (an Indonesian Karizma sibling with lower engine displacement).

afsal said...

almost all the two wheeler company tried to be the first in 100cc segment bikes thts the fact, n only bajsj was mentioned on that magszine n every one rethink sbout it y didnt even think about other companies coz bajaj really proved its products that its the 1st n best, but still hh beliver supports hh . N as v know years b4 hh sas the best bikes(i dnt agreewith that coz i fidnt rode old hh bikes) n it had slme fans too these beliver still wont giv up with our cutr muscular poweful bajaj pulsar bikes. I omly need to tell ride it n feel the difrence. Its a 5 cc difference with pilsar 220 and karizma 225 but when on trac it feels like more than 50cc difference so pulsar boys tune up ure rear glass so u can c karizma going back

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