In a war of words between Bajaj Auto and Royal Enfield, Maruti Suzuki walks away in smiles …

Ad wars in the automotive space are quite common in Europe and US but not so much in India. That, however, doesn’t mean that things are completely boring here. Siddhartha Lal, CEO, Eicher Motors, recently tweeted that Royal Enfield’s sales are equivalent to the global sales of Harley-Davidson, KTM, BMW, Triumph and Ducati combined. Yes, he actually said that! Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto, responded to the tweet through a statement to Business Standard, saying “By measuring solely on the basis of volumes at the exclusion of pricing power, it would seem that Maruti Suzuki is above and beyond brands like Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche put together.” The man has a point and quite logically so since the comparison put out by Lal was quite unfair and we’ve explained that further below in the story. That said, this isn’t the first time Rajiv Bajaj or Bajaj have been squarely up against Siddhartha Lal’s Royal Enfield. The story goes back a few months and goes like this.

Ever since the launch of the Bajaj Dominar 400, Rajiv Bajaj hasn’t held back from making clear comparisons of the Dominar 400 with Royal Enfield motorcycles. So much so, at the launch of the Dominar 400, Rajiv Bajaj highlighted Royal Enfield customers as the key potential customers for Bajaj. He even went ahead and publicly said that if Royal Enfield owners want to go faster they should buy a Dominar 400, highlighting the better performance of his company’s product. While this is perfectly fine, things didn’t end here and Bajaj released a TV commercial, wherein it took a shot at Royal Enfield, of course without naming them. The ad film portrayed thumping motorcycles as Elephants that are slow and cumbersome to handle and a bunch of Bajaj Dominar 400s appears from nowhere and do everything that the Elephant-like motorcycle can’t do. Not exactly sporting or classy, we’d say but that is what the ad was all about.

All this time, Siddharth Lal, CEO, Eicher Motors, did not come up with any official counter statement on the mentioned matters. His statement, hence, regarding volume comparison with exotic and niche brands came as a surprise. It’s like a mass-market pizza brand saying they sell more pizzas than five of the best fine dining and Michelin star restaurants serving pizza. The comparison simply wasn’t fair as it involved brands that are not competitors for Royal Enfield by any standards. At this point in time, one might say that with the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 due for launch, Lal was trying to make some sort of a statement. That, however, again falls short of reasoning since the Interceptor despite being the most advanced Royal Enfield ever, would fall quite short on a technology scale, when compared to the brands he took names of. Bajaj, being a stakeholder in KTM and having a co-development agreement with Triumph, understandably wasn’t amused and hence his reaction.

Meanwhile, the biggest laugh in this entire episode came from Maruti Suzuki, who isn’t involved in this incident in any way but being mentioned by Rajiv Bajaj as a market leader and that too by a huge margin surely won’t bother them. With two motorcycle companies engaged in a public verbal debate (more from Rajiv Bajaj’s end), a third party in the form of a carmaker walked away in all smiles.

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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