Benelli India is all set to challenge Royal Enfield in the cruiser segment and will be introducing the Imperiale 400 later this year around the festive season. carandbike had told you back in 2017 that the Benelli Imperiale 400 was being readied for India and the bike was later unveiled at the EICMA Motorcycle show that year. However, with the Benelli's India operations put on hold indefinitely, the launch plans were delayed. Nevertheless, the Imperiale 400 is coming to India this year and will take on the Royal Enfield Classic 350 as well as the Jawa in the segment. In addition, the brand plans to introduce two new motorcycles in the 250 cc segment by the end of 2019.
Speaking to the media about the company's future plans at the launch of the Benelli Leoncino 500 launch, Vikas Jhabakh, MD - Benelli India said that they plan to launch three new motorcycles later this year with a 400 cc commuter-cruiser to arrive during the festive season and will be followed by two 250 cc motorcycles.
What's interesting to know is that the Benelli Imperiale 400 will see a lot more local content going into it than the TRK 502 and the Leoncino, which should help keep the prices competitive. While the company did not confirm the percentage of local content on the cruiser, we should get a fair idea on the same at the time of launch. The local assembly will help the Imperiale 400 remain accessible to a larger customer base with a price around the ₹ 2-2.5 lakh (ex-showroom) mark. It may not undercut the locally produced Royal Enfield Classic 350 or the Jawa at this price point, but certainly remains an alternative within reach.
Given the fact that the Classic 350 remains the volumes driver for Royal Enfield, it is understandable why the Chinese-owned Italian brand is optimistic about the Imperiale. The cruiser boasts of a retro styling complete with the teardrop fuel tank, round headlamp, twin seats, and chromed out engine and exhaust for the old-school appeal. The Imperiale name too a resurrection of the original Benelli 125 cc offering of the same name that was sold decades ago.
Launched in 2017 globally, the Benelli 400 draws power from a 373.5 cc single-cylinder, SOHC engine with fuel-injection that churns out 19 bhp at 5500 rpm and 28 Nm of peak torque at 3500 rpm. The motor is paired to a 5-speed gearbox. The bike uses a double-cradle steel tube frame underneath and is suspended by telescopic forks up front and dual shock absorbers at the rear. The vintage-looking cruiser comes with disc brakes at either end with dual-channel ABS as standard. The bike has a kerb weight of 200 kg and a fuel tank capacity of 12 litres.
The Benelli Imperiale 400 is likely to be followed by the 250 cc versions of the TRK and the Leoncino motorcycles. Both bikes are already on sale in 500 cc avatar, and the 250 cc versions will make them more accessible to the masses. Prices though are expected to be around ₹ 2.5 lakh (ex-showroom) for the 250 cc bikes.
After an unprecedented exit in late 2017, Benelli made a comeback in India with a new partner Adishwar Auto Ride India (part of the Mahavir Group) and commenced operations with the TRK 502 adventure tourer. Having started with nine dealerships earlier this year, the brand has expanded to 19 outlets currently and plans to add 15 more by the end of this calendar year. The brand plans to expand its dealer network to 60 by the end of 2020. The company has already sold over 1000 motorcycles after resurrecting operations in India and aims to double that by the end of 2019.
Benelli India is also optimistic about the newly launched Leoncino that is priced at ₹ 4.79 lakh (ex-showroom, India). The company aims to sell at least 100 units of the motorcycle every month. It will also continue to retail its existing portfolio that ranges between 300-600 cc and are locally assembled at the Benelli's facility near Hyderabad.