Transforming Kinetic

Sulajja Firodia MotwaniFrom being a manufacturer of mopeds and scooters, the Kinetic group has been transformed over the years into a full range manufacturer of two-wheelers, with a product portfolio comprising its Luna and King mopeds / step-throughs; Zing and Zing Rocking (aimed at collegians, this two-wheeler has a built-in hi-fi system) scooterettes; Zoom, Nova, and Marvel scooters and; Boss, Velocity, GF 170 City, Laser and Aquila motorcycles.

In 1986, if Kinetic Motors, the Firodia-group company, that makes the smaller two-wheelers within the Kinetic group, had hoped to sweep the Indian market with its innovative gearless scooter, Kinetic Honda, in collaboration with Honda of Japan, it was in for a disappointment; the product failed to take-off in the north from where it was launched. However, the progressive southern markets proved receptive and soon, Kinetic Honda began to prove a challenge to the better-known Bajaj Auto scooters. Incidentally, both companies have their headquarters in Pune, near Mumbai.

From being dominated by scooters, the domestic two-wheeler market began to give way to motorcycles during the late '90s. In 2001, the Kinetic group entered this segment with its model, Boss, manufactured by Kinetic Engineering, which focuses exclusively on making two-wheelers with bigger-wheels.

Over the years, the Kinetic group has launched several new models at different price points — ranging from economy to luxury models. Its latest launch is the sports bike, Laser.

Motwani is upbeat about the group's agreement with the Italian company, Italjet. From next year onwards, Kinetic will manufacture seven Italjet models from the 65cc to 250cc range for the Indian and export markets. The Kinetic group had earlier also signed a manufacturing agreement with Hyosung Motors, Korea. According to Motwani, the two agreements do not make the Kinetic group into a contract-manufacturer for these two companies, she says in an interview to domain-b.

What changes in manufacturing, vendor management and branding did you have to address during the group's transition from a moped and scooter maker to becoming a full range two-wheeler manufacturer?
Our earlier join venture with Honda Motor Company, Japan, had restricted our entry in to the motorcycles segment. Consequently, we were a late entrant into this segment. Making a transition from manufacturing mopeds to motorcycles required transforming our focus in product development, R&D, building a new product portfolio, purchasing, technical know-how, re-designing the manufacturing facilities, etc.