On Tuesday, renowned motorcycle manufacturer Ducati launched the Scrambler 1100 in India, at a starting price of Rs 10.91 lakh. “We are developing experiential services for the customers, like the Dream Tour,” says Sergi Canovas, managing director of Ducati India. “We have completed one this year, and another two are in the pipeline. With Ducati Riding Experience, certified trainers coach riders how to negotiate different environments.”
Edited excerpts from Canovas's conversation with THE WEEK:
Ducati has crossed three years of operations in India. Tell us about your growth story.
We started in 2015. When we entered, we wanted to make sure that the brand was established properly. We entered knowing that this was a market with huge potential, but which needed time. So we had to build the brand with a strong foundation, and be patient with the results. We have opened eight dealerships in eight major cities, and we are planning to open one in Hyderabad at the end of this year. So, in terms of dealer development, we have completed the first stage. Which is very important.
Another thing was to make sure that we had the entire Ducati range in India, which would ensure that the customers could find exactly the ride they wanted. With the newly launched Scrambler 1100, we have around 30 models.
“We are developing experiential products for the customers, like the Dream Tour. We have completed one this year, and another two are in the pipeline. With Ducati Riding Experience, certified trainers coach riders how to negotiate different environments. Ducati Financial Services has made it easy for the general public to access our bikes, and Ducati Ever Red extended warranty, and roadside assistance, have instilled a lot of confidence in our customers.
Has Ducati encashed on the trade war between India and USA in terms of motorcycles taxes?
So far, we don’t see any threats or opportunities in these trade issues. We have our factory in Thailand, and with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), we bring the best to our Indian customers.
There was news of Ducati partnering with a major e-commerce brand in India to sell the Ducati merchandise. Any progress on that?
So far, we don’t have anything in the pipeline. We know that commerce is important and we are going to follow the developments that come from our headquarters in case any platform is to be deployed. I think it is good to reach all Indian customers through e-commerce. Remember, we have not just riding gear, but a lot of merchandise like t-shirts which cater to those who are not necessarily Ducati owners. But, so far, nothing has materialised in that front, and I do not know where the news has come from.
You have a spare parts delivery system for your top-end bikes, within 48 hours. Is the same timeline applicable to the newly launched Scrambler 1100?
We have an agreement with our registered suppliers to deliver spare parts within 48 hours. But, sometimes, due to customs clearance issues, it gets delayed. But I can tell you that, at an average, the parts reach in 15 days. All our Ducatis are covered the same.
What about tailoring Ducatis for India? The road conditions are different. And there were a lot of complaints that the Scrambler 800 clutch faced issues in initial months of purchase.
Our bikes are not developed with a regional approach. They will work anywhere in the world if used in the right environment. One should know where to ride a Panigale and where to ride a Multistrada. I don’t know what happened with the Scramblers clutch. Honestly, I am not in a position to tell if it was the customers' fault.
Most of the big international bike manufacturers are partnering with Indian bike manufactures to develop 250CC and 500CC motorcycles. Is Ducati planning any such partnership?
That is a very interesting development. That is a big market which will bring new riders to premium motorcycling. For sure, it will bring some longterm benefit for Ducati as people start with one brand and they want to upgrade to premium Ducatis. So far, we don’t have plans to partner with anyone to manufacture smaller bikes.
What about the electric bikes? Is Ducati developing any?
We are very aware that everybody is trying to find alternative energy solutions. It is not clear whether the solution will be hydrogen, electric or hybrid. We are part of the Volkswagen group, which is working a lot on that. Of course, if there is any development, then we have a big company behind us which we can depend on. But, right now, we are focussing on improving the safety. We are developing a radar system, which we are going implement in 2020.
Tell us about the new 1100 Scrambler? Who are the target customers and what kind of interest has it generated so far?
Scrambler 1100 is an evolution of Scrambler 800. It comes in many versions. A lot of riders wanted more. They wanted more power, and different delivery of torque. And there are also customers who wants a more refined and premium Scrambler. With the three riding modes, and safety equipment, it is drawing a lot of curiosity from riders who want to upgrade.
You have your presence in Kerala also. Many automobile manufactures are setting up special services for the flood-affected customers. Tell us how Ducati is dealing with it?
We are very much in touch with our dealership in Kerala; the building itself is not affected. Of course, the operations have been affected. Once we have a clear picture from our customers, we will take actions accordingly to help them.
What are the future plans for India?
We will continue to bring new products to India. We will expand our dealerships and provide experiential services to our customers.