When India's first aircraft carrier, the INS Vicrant, ended up in the scrapyard after its decommission from active duty, Bajaj found the ideal raw material for a new motorcycle. The suitably-named V is a 150 cc commuter that proudly declares its hybrid heritage as part motorcycle, part war hero.
Just a few days before the 2016 Auto Expo officially opens its gates in New Delhi, India, on February 5, Bajaj has unveiled a new motorcycle that targets the 150 cc class, one of the most popular and faster growing categories in the Indian motorcycle market. Already sporting the best-selling Pulsar 150 in its line-up, the world's fourth biggest motorcycle manufacturer – and holder of a 47 percent stake in KTM AG – attempts to strengthen its Indian market share with the addition of a very special model.
The V doesn't really stand out because of its technology. The air-cooled single-cylinder 149.5 cc, 12 hp DTS-i motor is a rather low-tech unit, already used in several other Bajaj models. Sitting in a steel double cradle frame and coupled with simple suspension and a fairly basic brake system, it makes for a commuter whose budget pricing is probably one of its biggest advantages. But there's also a twist.
In 1997 the Indian Navy decommissioned the INS Vicrant, its first aircraft carrier that was purchased from England in 1957. The Vicrant gained its legendary status after participating in operations like the liberation of Goa from Portugal in 1961 and the Indian-Pakistan war in 1971. Initially the carrier was supposed to become a museum, but after the country's Navy declared its inability to maintain the iconic vessel it was sold for scrap in 2012.
In 2014 Bajaj managed to get its hands on a portion of this raw material, intending to put it to good use. Apparently owing its name to the INS Vicrant, the V's 13-liter fuel tank is fabricated from recycled metal outsourced from the aircraft carrier.
Dubbed as "The Invincible," the new model will go on sale in March with a projected production of 20,000 units per month. Its price has not been finalized yet, as Bajaj's officials put it in the INR 60,000-70,000 range (US$880-1,000). Understandably it will be initially offered only in India, where the historical reference of the bike will be appreciated. Later on it will also be exported to other markets.
"Buy quickly and you'll get the bike with the metal of the ship," said Eric Vas, Director of Bajaj Motorcycle Division at the new model's launch. "Obviously when it runs out it will not be made with this metal."
You can find out more in the video that Bajaj released at the launch event of its new model.