Bajaj Auto faces rough ride in India car market

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

MUMBAI, March 6, 2011 (AFP) – Abhijit is fiercely proud of his Kawasaki Bajaj motorbike and considers himself a company loyalist. “Motorbikes are the best for urban travel. They’re economical and easy to park,” the Mumbai sales executive in his 30s told AFP.

But while Abhijit, who uses only one name, wants to upgrade to four wheels, he is not yet sure whether he will stay true to the Bajaj brand, even though the company has announced that it is looking to get into the small car market.

“You know what you’re getting with bikes and scooters,” he explained. “A car from Bajaj? I’m not too sure.”

Bajaj is India’s second-largest manufacturer of two- and three-wheelers, and its name is synonymous with auto-rickshaws in the country, the world’s largest market for such vehicles.

But the attitudes of customers like Abhijit — one of the millions of Indians that the automaker has helped make more mobile — could be a stumbling block for the firm when it comes to cars, analysts say.

The Indian car market, where nearly two million new cars were sold last year, is increasingly crowded and cut-throat.

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