Use research to release market-specific products

Bajaj has launched a new bike it says will be suitable for Kenya’s rough terrain. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Bajaj has launched a new bike it says will be suitable for Kenya’s rough terrain. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Indian auto maker Bajaj Auto Ltd last week launched its new motorcycle, Boxer X125, that it says is designed for Kenyan rough terrain as the company seeks to further penetrate the commuter bikes market.

“The Boxer X125 has all-terrain features which include a raised mudguard and mud-grip tyres, equipped with a 125cc engine delivering power of 10PS and torque of 10.5NM @ 5000RPM; a four-speed gear box,” said Karunesh Singh, Bajaj Auto LTD International marketing manager.

“It is targeted at both town riders and off-road users because of its rugged orientation to both smooth and rugged terrains. The product is priced at Sh103,990.”

According to the 2017 Economic Survey the tarmacked road in Kenya covers 14,500km by 2016 while the section under earth/gravel is 72,5000km. Using the right technology, Bajaj is likely to endear itself to consumers leading to an increase in sales.

Commuter bikes are now a popular means of transport in Kenya. In the 10 months to October, motorcycles accounted for 67.35 per cent of new registrations at 236,448 units, an increase from 158,998 over similar period in 2016.

“It is important for a company to research and understand the market and the needs of its customers in order to meet their demands adequately. Bajaj Auto Ltd understands that the customer needs in Kenya are different, hence looking into aspects like fuel efficiency, terrain and capacity in the models the company has launched in the market so far, to provide the customers with products that suit their needs,” said Karunesh.

An example of a company that has successfully applied technology innovation to its product in order to meet market demands is car manufacturer Toyota. For its Land Cruiser model, it has installed technology to tackle the rough terrain in various parts of the world such as Africa, the Middle East, South America and Australia.

“It features an electronic hill start assist system that allows maximum traction on slopes and a downhill assist system, to maintain control descending a steep slope along with improved structural rigidity for improved manoeuvrability, stability and quietness,” reported Toyota.

“It is fitted with a crawl control feature that enables it to maintain low speed as it traversed rocks and sand. It contains a multi-terrain monitor which relays visuals of the surrounding environment back to the driver, allowing them to traverse obstacles with far greater ease. The system uses four cameras; front, side mirrors and rear, to provide a 360-degree view of the vehicle surrounds, and is automatically activated when the multi-terrain system is operational.”

These features have made the vehicle popular in rough terrain and for those that love adventures in such areas. Australians, for instance, accounts for 10 per cent of all Land Cruisers sold globally, as of 2017, since it was introduced in the market in 1954.

Globally, seven million Land Cruisers have been sold, of these, 700,000 have been sold in Australia.

- African Laughter