Thursday, August 31, 2006

Scooter Chronicles, #3

Wherein problems in India

XWL has recommended considering the Bajaj Chetak scooter. I briefly considered it and despite favorable reviews, decided it wasn't for me. I wasn't crazy about 10-inch wheels and it didn't offer much storage. Then there's the issues with the Indian factories. Seems like every scooter imported from India was having production or labor issues. Being fairly mechanically retarded, dealer support is very important for me--I'm not working on it. Kymco has a more established history and their market share seems to be growing. Then, despite driving manual transmission cars my entire life, I was more interested in the twist and go automatic scooters.

There's also the fact that the Chetak is done, finished, no more. Posting in the Bajaj yahoo scooter forum in January, Al Kolvites, president of Argo USA (formerly Bajaj USA), wrote:
We had suspicions that this kind of thing might happen when we visited the factory 8 months ago. Management spent a lot of time telling us how the motorcycles were selling great guns (145,000 per month at that time)
and how scooter sales were declining (averaging about 9,000 a month). And we could see that they were gradually removing scooters from their lineup. Bajaj has promised many things in the past that never came to pass, we were becoming accustomed to disappointment, so we were waiting for the other shoe to drop. (more on this subject later)

It looks like Bajaj is going out of the scooter business and will concentrate on motorcycles. Bajaj Auto has obviously made a business decision to change the direction of the products they produce, they have something like 10,000 employees at three plants, they are not closing shop, they are growing the business, just not to our liking.

Fortunately we had ordered enough Chetaks to cover us for 2006 and into 2007. The Silver and Black Chetaks have arrived and the metallic Jade are on the water.

Bajaj's policy is to stock and supply parts for a least 5 years after discontinuing a model, then leaving parts to aftermarket suppliers. As you can see with other discontinued brands, spare parts are not normally a problem. The more scooters out there, the more manufacturers there are that want to take advantage of the parts business. As I state on our web site, we will continue to support and supply parts for the Bajaj scooters that we sell. We have thousands of parts in stock and have
every intention of supporting the Bajaj products... selling parts is a good business too.

There's more, so read the rest. If you're interested in a Chetak, they're still out there and the Bajaj yahoo forum is very active. From my research it looked like a nice machine, just not for me.


Blogger XWL said...

Damn that growing prosperity in India!

The decision of Bajaj to switch from scooters to motorcycles might be a reflection of the improving Indian economy, or a desire to go after larger vehicles with bigger per unit profit margins.

My research of the matter was 5 years out of date, the scooter you went with looks like a fine machine, though.

9/01/2006 01:26:00 PM  

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