Bikes in India have always been popular but now it’s the age of the uber-luxury bikes. With renowned Italian bike brand Ducati entering the Indian market, bike lovers are scrambling to get the best of the best. With 27 models on offer in India, along with the Ducati accessories and apparel, the Italian brand is making sure the Indian customer has everything he or she needs for the best bike experience. In this exclusive chat with Latha Srinivasan, Sergi Canovas, Managing Director of Ducati India, talks about launching their new showroom in Chennai, the Ducati experience and why this brand is a notch above the rest.

NewsX: What is available for Ducati customers in Chennai and Tamil Nadu and what is that you’re launching now?

Sergi Canovas: The first one is the launch of the Chennai dealership which is in partnership with VST, Bangalore. We’ve been covering the market of Chennai from Bangalore. Now, we’re very happy to open in Chennai and we’re also clubbing the opening of Chennai with the handing over of the Monster 821 to the first customers. And we’re celebrating the Monster which is 25 years old.

NewsX: How do you see the demand in the Tamil Nadu market, as compared to the rest of India?

Sergi Canovas: It’s raining for us as we have 50-60 customers already in the region. This is an important market for us and we see a lot of attraction for the sports bikes.

NewsX: Sports bikes?

Sergi Canovas: Ya, sports bikes and that’s something that works for us because we have just launched our new V4 which is our superbike. It has been a great success in the rest of the world and they’re going to come here by the end of July. So it’s an important opportunity for us in the Tamil Nadu market.

NewsX: What’s Ducati going to do in terms of creating the big biking community?

Sergi Canovas: You know that’s one of the key points in our strategy – which is giving opportunity and reasons to the Indian customers to ride a Ducati. This year there are a lot of things that we’ve launched to make sure that once someone comes to Ducati, they never go back. For example, we want to make sure that your journey with Ducati is smooth and hassle-free. We’ve launched our product called Ever Red which is a worldwide brand in which we offer extended warranty to our customers – so apart from two years that they have, now they have two more. Growth and assistance are very important and we know that our customers are travelling around.  We also have our property called Ducati Dream Tour in which we organize rides for our customers. They can go from four days to 15 days and discover regions of India. In April, there was a four-day ride. While they were riding, they were also stopping and fishing, paragliding, visiting temples, etc. These experiences they will remember throughout their life. Now, we’re launching the second trip to Leh and Ladakh and that is about 15 days. And it’s the same philosophy. You’re riding but you’re creating a community and our community is called DOC which is Desmo Owners Club which means that each dealer manages each community in a way that it’s created by the customers itself and it’s supported by the dealers. These are recognized as official clubs in the Ducati headquarters. So, these are our ambassadors, our best customers and they tell you this journey with Ducati is the next thing.

NewsX: The terrain in India is very different and most of the city roads are bad. So, owning such a luxury bike, how do you see it in terms of infrastructure riding around in India?

Sergi Canovas: It’s difficult to say. We’re selling our bikes in more than eighty countries so we face different realities around the world but one thing which is very important is that we’re offering more than 27 models. 27 models of different segments including bikes that are perfect for off-road – and then bad roads become the best roads! And there are bikes you can take to the race tracks. I think whoever wants to ride a bike if they come to Ducati they can find the perfect bike. And it depends on them where they want to take it – race tracks or dirt-roads.

NewsX: What’s the average age of your customers, especially in India?

Sergi Canovas: In India, I have to tell you that it’s very young here. We’re looking at customers from the age of 25 to 50 but then it depends more on the bike. If we look at Panigale, which is the sports bike, you’ll be able to find slightly younger customers because the bike is more sporty, more engaging and you feel young when you ride this bike.

NewsX: How do you see yourself establishing that niche in India because other bikes seem to be quite popular at the moment?

Sergi Canovas: We stand very clearly for features – I mean whoever buys a Ducati is going to find it a very sophisticated bike. Another thing is that we’re Italian and that’s a trademark. So whether you like it or you don’t like it, you like Italian bikes. One thing our customers are always looking for – even if it’s a Scrambler Icon or our flagship Model Superleggera – not only about how powerful the bike is but also how safe the bike is. Everybody just talks about the engine, and the power and sometimes we forget the suspension, and how the brakes are, which are very important features for the safety of our customers. Our customers are looking for that and I think we’re in a very good position to offer all these things.

NewsX: What about accessories and apparel which are part of the Ducati lifestyle?

Sergi Canovas: We look at this as an important aspect of the bike. It’s unthinkable to think somebody will buy a bike and is not going to be concerned about safety. If we look at our showrooms, we have half the range of products (accessories and apparel) that we believe are good for India. In India, summers are very hot so you’ve to make sure that you provide safety but at the same time comfort. So we’ve got the products – the jackets, the pants, the boots, the gloves – that are suitable for the Indian climate. It’s very important that we promote the apparel and the accessories because when you see the statistics of what protection level they have, I think a lot of people would not think twice about spending more money on something which is safe. It’s our duty to educate people about what it means to have a Ducati certification and what is the impact on safety – these are the things that we’re focusing a lot on.  We’re teaching our dealership staff to make sure they explain to customers that it’s not just a lifestyle need but about safety.

NewsX: Is Ducati meant only for the evolved bikers and not a beginner?

Sergi Canovas: No, I don’t think so. I think that you have bikes for the evolved but in our range of bikes, you can buy anything you want. We have customers for every kind of bike. For example, we have the Ducati range and Scrambler which are both different personalities – they have a similar engine and similar principles but different personalities. The Monster 797+, for instance, is a bike which has a character of a Ducati but is very easy to ride and very easy to maintain. So you’ve got bikes for the evolved, but you’ve also got bikes for people who want to start out with motorcycles for the first time.

NewsX: I want to ask about Indian sensibilities. People love to spend money here but they always ask for discounts.

Sergi Canovas: I think it’s very important that you explain to them what they’re buying. We don’t really offer discounts, but we try to upgrade customers with accessories or something else.