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BW Businessworld

Rajiv Bajaj: The Turnaround Specialist

Rajiv Bajaj believes in launching disruptive products – a recipe for success in today’s competitive markets

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Rajiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto, and son of Rahul Bajaj, became a poster boy of the global automotive industry by turning around the fortunes of his company which was founded by his late grandfather.  Being a hands-on leader, he is credited with rolling out numerous ground breaking products, which includes the ‘Pulsar’ range of motorcycles. The Pune-based firm is now the world’s sixth-largest manufacturer of motorcycles and the second-largest in India and is also the world’s largest three-wheeler manufacturer.

“T-shirt and jeans! That personifies the ‘darling’ of the Indian automobile industry. His friends as well as enemies are his most loyal followers and advocates. Bajaj is assertive bordering on arrogance, focused to the point of compulsive obsession and straight talking on the brink of deliberate indiscretion. His vision of making Bajaj a global brand, almost at the cost of the domestic market, is not understood by most of us, let alone be appreciated. He is the CEO that is right there, on the frontline, in your face, staring down your throat. Love him? Good. Hate him? Better,” says Avik Chattopadhyay, founder of Expereal, a brand strategy firm.

Bajaj’s current priority is the application of the scientific principles of Homoeopathy to the task of building a brand centred strategy at Bajaj Auto to make it one of the world’s leading motorcycle manufacturers. After acquiring a sizeable stake in KTM, an Austrian motor-cycle and sports car manufacturer, Bajaj Auto has now inked a non-equity MoU with UK-based Triumph Motorcycles to develop high-end motorcycles for the latter.

Over the last three decades, Rajiv has implemented numerous avant-garde strategies such as redefining his company’s product portfolio and the product development process, realigning marketing and sales while also introducing some of the successful new products into selective international markets. Being an ardent admirer of Steve Jobs and his company Apple, Rajiv believes in coming out with disruptive products which can rewrite the rules of the game. In its mission to cater to auto rickshaw drivers by offering them a four-wheeler, which is as economical to run as a three-wheeler and at the same time is safer and more comfortable, his company conceived Qute (unveiled as RE 60) quadricycle.  Qute has now established itself in 16 countries including Russia, South-Africa, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Fiji, Peru, Thailand and several others.  However, owing to legal disputes concerning safety and emissions, the vehicle is yet not available in the domestic market.

“The decision to be a global company led us to narrow our product focus which was instrumental in aligning all our resources towards creating world class brands ranging from the Bajaj Boxer, Africa’s No. 1 motorcycle and KTM, Europe’s No. 1 motorcycle to the Bajaj RE & Bajaj maxima which together make us the world’s No. 1 intra-city manufacturer,” says Bajaj.

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magazine 26 may 2018 rajiv bajaj auto bajaj auto