Remember when the Triumph Speed 400 first launched in India earlier in 2023?
Bajaj Auto, the Indian motorbike manufacturer that has partnered with Triumph on manufacturing both bikes, opened preorders at the same time as the launch announcement. (For those unfamiliar, that's just how it's done in India. It makes a lot of sense; if you already know you want the bike, why should you have to wait to place a preorder?)
Just a month later, local press and dealerships were reporting a months-long wait due to just how popular the preorders for the Triumph Speed 400 were turning out to be. That's before they even opened preorders for the Scrambler 400 X, which came later.
Now that it's November 2023, Bajaj CEO Rajiv Bajaj sat down with CNBC-TV18 to chat about where Bajaj is now, as well as where it sees itself in the coming months and years. Among other things, he noted that Bajaj was caught somewhat by surprise regarding the massive demand for the Triumph 400s.
As it turns out, Bajaj planned for production of about 5,000 Triumph 400s per month. What it got instead was a demand of about 10,000 bikes in the first month. You're not misreading; that's entirely double what Bajaj had expected. With demand remaining high, it's not difficult to understand why the estimated wait times began to stretch beyond initial expectations.
Still, Rajiv Bajaj said, the plan plans to roll with the massive level of demand and rise to the occasion. As a point of clarification, the company's fiscal year runs from April 1 of one year to March 31 of the following year. That's important so you know what Rajiv Bajaj means when he says that the company plans to sell 18,000 Triumphs in Q3 of the current fiscal year (2023 to 2024).
Rajiv Bajaj believes that it's doable to ramp up production to 6,000 bikes a month. In the future, he says that he believes they can make up to 10,000 bikes a month, but that won't happen immediately. That level of demand certainly seems like the kind of thing that many manufacturers would love to have, as long as they can make a realistic plan to meet it.
But Wait, There's More!
In addition to talking about the massive success of the Triumph 400s, Rajiv Bajaj also mentioned that his company wants to explore undiscovered motorbike territory in the future. To be more specific, he said that it's currently exploring ways to create a compressed natural gas (CNG) motorcycle model, which he believes would be the first in the world.
Using CNG, Bajaj says, could help to lower emissions while also lowering out-of-pocket costs. As of November 2023, India's national government is actively encouraging the growth of CNG infrastructure, particularly for commercial vehicles because it's seen as a lower-emission alternative to diesel fuel.
Bajaj is hoping to produce its first (and perhaps the world's first) CNG motorcycle by the end of 2025. Right now, it's only in the preliminary exploration and planning stages. A motorcycle is trickier than a scooter would be, because there isn't as much space to work with for housing the canister needed to hold the compressed natural gas. As Rajiv Bajaj pointed out in this interview, those kind of space worries aren't a problem on three-wheelers and larger vehicles.
As to whether Bajaj would use an existing model name in its arsenal to release the CNG bike, the CEO hedged and said he thought it would likely be a better move to choose an entirely new name instead. However, he also cautioned that it's very early in development to nail down all the details, so we can expect to learn more in the coming months.