KTM to build 650 cc twin-cylinder motorcycles in India: CEO Stefan Pierer
After previously denying the possibility of locally built larger capacity KTM motorcycles, Stefan Pierer, CEO - KTM AG, has confirmed that the brand is now looking to build middleweight motorcycles in the Indian market. In a recent interview with an international publication, the KTM boss said that the company developing a new 650 cc twin-cylinder motorcycle platform for India based on the 790 Duke, which will spawn a new range of offerings.
The statement is a big update since January this year when Stefan Pierer denied the possibility of big-capacity KTM bikes being made in India. Pierer said this when he was in Pune for the rollout of the one million KTM motorcycle from Bajaj Auto’s plant. The development also comes in the wake of the much-anticipated 490 twin-cylinder platform being shelved altogether. Instead, KTM is now working on a 650 cc platform instead, which will be based on the current 790 Duke.
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In the interview, Pierer explained that the 650 segment was financially more viable than the 490 segment. He also said that discussions are currently underway with Bajaj about building the twin-cylinder platform in India, which will predominantly cater to the domestic market along with neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and even Australia. The geographical proximity makes it more sense for the brand to invest in building the bikes in India and selling it in these markets.
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KTM has a similar understanding with China’s CFMOTO, which makes twin-cylinder motorcycles based on the 790 platform. CFMOTO will not only cater to the demand in China but also supply motorcycles to markets like Latin America, thus making for a clear distinction between what the India and China plants offer.
The news is certainly welcome with KTM RC 390 and 390 Duke buyers finally having something to upgrade to within the orange brand. Customers did taste KTM’s big-bike prowess with the short-lived 790 Duke but the brand has been sadly low-key since about bringing more big bikes to India.
Nevertheless, a made-in-India 650 cc twin from KTM would mean competitive pricing for stellar performance. KTM will also be better equipped to take on the influx of newer brands like Moto Morini, Zontes, QJ Motor and more, while competing with established rivals like Kawasaki, Honda, Royal Enfield, and Triumph. The latter has also partnered with Bajaj to build its entry-level range in India, which will arrive in a few months' time.