The scooter market in India is yet to pick up steam, having borne the brunt of the Covid-induced sales decline over 18-odd months. The new work-from-home dynamic in urban India, school and college closures and high petrol prices have hit this sub-segment of the two-wheeler industry. In the April-October 2021 period, a total of 467,161 units were sold, which is 21% down on year-ago sales of 590,507 units.
However, this market performance also mirrors the performance of the overall two-wheeler industry: 15,41,621 units or 25% sales decline (20,53,814) and that of the motorcycle segment – 10,17,874 (-26% / 13,82,749 units). Which is why OEMs are constantly on the lookout for ‘white spaces’ or niches where they spot an opportunity to grow, despite difficult market conditions. The 125cc scooter market is one such opportunity and OEMs are seizing it adroitly.
India’s petrol-engined scooter market, which has 18 products from seven manufacturers in the fray, is seeing considerable action in the 125cc arena. The past few months have seen a gaggle of new products being launched including the Yamaha Fascino FI Hybrid, Aprilia SXR 125, TVS NTorq 125 Race XP, Hero Maestro 125, TVS Jupiter 125, and Honda Grazia125 Repsol Honda Team Edition, and Suzuki Avenis 125.
Access, NTorq, Burgman notch growth in a difficult market
The Indian scooter market currently has 12 models in the 125cc segment, some with 110cc/150cc siblings (Honda Activa, TVS Jupiter, Hero Maestro, Aprilia and Vespa). Look at the comprehensive sales data table (April-October 2021) and you get an idea of the growing connect of the 125cc segment with buyers.
Of the Top 10 best-selling scooters in the first seven months of FY2022, only five models have registered growth in what has been a difficult period for the two-wheeler industry and the scooter sub-segment. And three of them are purely 125cc – Suzuki Access, TVS NTorq and Suzuki Burgman. The Honda Activa is the fourth but its 125cc sales are far lower than its 110cc version, which has India’s longstanding No. 1 scooter. And there’s the Hero Maestro, which is sold only as a 110cc model.
The Suzuki Access is India’s best-selling 125cc scooter and it went home to 282,000 buyers in the April-October 2021 period, notching handsome 49% YoY growth. What’s more, it is the company’s mainstay, having contributed 83% to its overall sales of 337,817 units and helped increase its market share by 4 percentage points to 14%.
Its sibling, the Suzuki Burgman, which is powered by the Access’s 125cc engine, is also in positive territory with sales of 55,817 units, up 45% YoY and contributing 16.5% to overall Suzuki sales.
The TVS NTorq, the second-ranked 125cc scooter, continues its strong showing with sales of 145,256 units, up 23% YoY. The NTorq’s importance can be gleaned from the fact that it contributed 30% to TVS’ cumulative scooter sales of 479,989 units.
Club the 125cc models – Suzuki Access, TVS NTorq, Hero Destini 125, Yamaha Ray, Yamaha Fascino and Suzuki Burgman (sales splits for the Honda Activa and TVS Jupiter not available) and what you get is a cumulative total of 667,238 units – which accounts for a fourth or 30% of total Top 10 sales of 22,36,135 units (which account for 93% of total India scooter sales of 23,95,104 units). Expect these Top 10 to continue to power the sales charts in the coming months.
With urban India gradually moving back into working-from-office mode and schools and colleges opening gingerly, expect demand to return for scooters. It also helps if they come up trumps on the fuel efficiency front, what with expensive petrol to tank up on. But the fact remains that the 125cc segment is flowering and how. Even the motorcycle market is seeing a smart uptick for higher-powered 125cc commuters compared to their 100-110cc brethren. It’s yet another sign of India wanting to be on the move, faster.