Yamaha has been rumored to be working on a 250cc sportbike for quite some time now. In fact, the other three members of the Japanese Big Four have launched new models in the small-displacement segment in recent years, but none of these new generation small-displacement bikes bear Yamaha‘s crossed tuning fork logo.
That may change by 2014 however. After previously stating the company plans to focus on producing scooters for India, Hiroyuki Suzuki, managing director and chief executive officer of India Yamaha tells the Financial Chronicle a sporty 250cc model is on the way.
“We will focus on the scooters category for next two years, but in 2014 we will launch powerful sporty 250cc bike in the Indian market,” Suzuki tells the Financial Chronicle. “There is a good market for this premium segment which we would like to tap.”
Yamaha actually started India’s premium sportbike segment in 2008 with the 150cc YZF-R15 (pictured above). Yamaha updated the India-manufactured R15 for 2012 and expanded sales to Australia and New Zealand and, more recently, to Japan.
Since 2008 however, Kawasaki gave its updated Ninja 250 an update and recent unveiled its replacement in the new Ninja 300, Honda introduced its CBR250R and Suzuki produced the GW250. All of those models are offered in several markets around the world, but as yet, the upcoming Yamaha 250 is only being planned for India.
But is Yamaha too late? A new 250 might do well in India where Yamaha can build off of the success of its R15. But its competition has begun to shift its focus to higher displacement levels. While many markets such as India are still offered the Ninja 250, it’s being replaced in more developed markets North America and Europe. Honda recently unveiled a new family of 500cc models. Beyond the Japanese Big Four, KTM too is moving up the displacement ladder with its new 390 Duke joining its 125 and 200 iterations.
Yamaha also faces competition from Indian manufacturers. Hero Motocorp is expected to leverage its partnership agreement with Erik Buell to produce a premium sportbike model while Bajaj, which has a 47% stake in KTM, is using the Austrian brand’s technology in its Pulsar models. Yamaha’s already lagging behind in this segment, and the gap may be even wider in a year’s time when the 250 model is expected to break cover.
[Source: Financial Chronicle]