The upcoming safety norms are likely to be the cause behind the move.
Bajaj has suspended the production of its 150cc commuter, the V15, presumably due to the fact that stringent safety norms are set to be implemented soon. The new regulations which will come into effect in April states that all motorcycles with an engine displacement of 125cc or above need to have mandatory ABS. The ones below that need to be offered with CBS (Combi Braking System). What that means is that Bajaj will have to equip the V15 with at least single-channel ABS to continue selling it.
Right now, the V15’s pricing (Rs 65,178, ex-showroom Delhi) is closer to premium 125cc bikes in the country, which is a key USP of the product. If Bajaj chooses to update the V15 with ABS, it might push the cost towards the realm of 150cc commuters, assuming a price hike of around Rs 7,000 for a single-channel ABS unit. Consequently, the brand will lose out in the pricing game, which is extremely crucial for a 150cc commuter motorcycle.
We believe the brand might just bring back the V12 with CBS as that will be relatively less-expensive than the tedious and cost-draining process of equipping ABS in a motorcycle. Bajaj calls its CBS the Anti Skid Braking system, but the working principle is pretty much the same as CBS found on other bikes. The V12, though not on sale right now, is currently listed in Bajaj’s website for Rs 58,458 (ex-showroom Delhi). Assuming a price hike of around Rs 600 (going by how it priced the Discover 110 ASB), the CBS-equipped version wouldn’t be very expensive.
Another factor for the V15’s discontinuation could be the fact that the bike witnessed a massive 91 per cent sales drop in January this year compared to the same month last year, selling just 393 units. On the other hand, the Pulsar 150’s sales performance stands in stark contrast, with a growth of 122 per cent (67,682 units) in January (year-on-year). So, as far as the commuter 150cc segment is concerned, customers seem to be quite happy to opt for the Pulsar 150 rather than the V15. The V12, on the other hand, makes sense for those who want a budget commuter with reasonably good looks at an affordable price point.
That said, it would be really interesting how the brand would market the bike considering the famed metal from the Vikrant aircraft carrier is bound to run out at some point of time. Bajaj has not made any official statement regarding the V15 being axed. So it remains to be seen what the brand’s next move is. Stay tuned for updates!