The R&D Team Comes Of Age In 1995, when Abraham Joseph, Bajaj Auto's R&D head, put the engine of the new 4-stroke Legend on a ten-hour endurance test, it shut down after some time. When he opened the mill, Joseph saw the inside of the block and crankshaft bearings had worn out.
Today, eight years later, Joseph and his team enjoy the fact that while developing the Eterno, Honda engineers had stripped down six Legend scooters to study them.
In terms of number of people or facilities, Bajaj R&D team is not much bigger than that of any other company (it has 100 people in R&D, 400 in product engineering, and has some of the best equipment), but it is qualitatively different now. As emotional attributes (like style) gain importance over rational attributes (like fuel efficiency) for evolving customers, Rajiv Bajaj has tried to put together a team that understands them. "We have a young bunch of people, many of whom are motorcycle riders. They are crazy about bikes and understand the customers requirements as users," adds Joseph, who himself joined in 1989. There are others like Ravi Darad, Bajaj Auto's stylist who is an engineer from IIT-Bombay. Bajaj has been hiring 30-40 engineers from the best colleges in India every year.Structural changes in the organisation have also improved response time. "The cycle time for design has come down from 3-5 years to less than two years today," says Joseph. The Pulsar took 22 months to develop; the K-60 will take 21. Way to go!