The first six months of FY2018-19 have not been a hugely happy period for the domestic scooter market. Overall scooter numbers, in Q1 and Q2, have registered subdued growth of less than five percent YoY (4.91 percent) as against healthy 13.18 percent growth of the motorcycle segment.
In September 2018, SIAM data reported total domestic scooter sales at 666,476 units, which marks YoY de-growth of about 3 percent YoY. Comparatively, the motorcycle segment registered better YoY growth of 7.04 percent in its domestic sales last month.
For the April-September 2018 period, scooter sales total 3,753,103 units, which constitutes 4.91 percent growth. Clearly a slowing down of fortunes for a segment which a year before clocked 17.26 percent growth (April-September 2017: 3,577,421).
This evident slowdown in scooter sales can be attributed to a bunch of unforeseen circumstances, which have risen only in this financial year. For example, the incidence of floods in Kerala, a key market for scooters, has negatively impacted retail sales. While the displacement of people from affected areas has resulted in an unfortunate collapse of the market, also leading to giving a miss to this year’s buying during the Onam festival, industry executives suggest that the local demand is yet to recover completely (in Kerala).
Secondly, a surprise advisory issued by the RTOs in West Bengal, which according to YS Guleria, senior VP, marketing & sales, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI), does not allow non-license holders to buy two-wheelers, has led to collapsing the local demand by about 50 percent. “West Bengal contributes to about five percent of the total domestic two-wheeler sales in India. This has collapsed by about 50 percent after this advisory was issued in West Bengal in the last week of June 2018,” Guleria told Autocar Professional recently.
Another major factor impacting scooter sales is the discounts offered by certain manufacturers, bringing down the retail price of their entry-level motorcycles. Bajaj Auto is one primary example of this. Heavy discounts on its 100cc Bajaj CT and other variants have been able to successfully draw price-sensitive customers to company showrooms. This, according to industry officials, is more evident in markets like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and other states.
Lastly, exceptionally high fuel prices and rising interest rates (on bank loan repayments) are also keeping deterring customers at large in the Tier 1 and 2 and smaller towns from making their purchases in general, thereby evidently impacting scooter sales more than the 100cc motorcycles.
How the models stack up
A few scooter models – both new and old – continue to drive sales mostly in urban India. This includes models such as TVS Motor’s all-new 125cc NTorq, Suzuki’s Access 125 and Honda’s Dio. Industry data for September 2018 also outlines a rise in the demand for the proven and affordable models such as Hero Pleasure and TVS Scooty Pep+.
The top two bestsellers, Honda Activa (Sept’18: 284,809 units) and the TVS Jupiter (September 2018: 90,738 units) have both reported a decline of 12 percent YoY and 3.03 percent YoY respectively. Enough to pull overall numbers down.
Saving the segment bigger blushes is the No. 3 scooter – the 125cc Suzuki Access (September 2018: 46,931 units) and, at No. 4, the 110cc Honda Dio (September 2018: 44,397 units) have registered YoY growth of 12.61 percent and 12.69 percent respectively last month.
Nevertheless, it must be noted even the Suzuki Access’ month-on-month despatches (August vs September: 48,436 units vs 46,931 units) have slowed down, clearly indicating that the company foresees inventory accumulation more than the retail sales at its dealerships.
Hero MotoCorp’s Maestro range stands as the fifth largest-selling scooter brand with sales of 37,367 units last month, down by 32.68 percent YoY. Sixth-placed Hero Duet reported despatches of 23,124 units in September, marking a YoY growth of 29.69 percent.
Meanwhile, continuing to rake in robust sales month-on-month, TVS Motors’ 125cc NTorq scooter now ranks seventh in the Top 10 bestselling scooters list. The company reportedly despatched 20,820 units to dealers last month. Demand for the TVS NTorq continues to be on track as per the company's initial expectations, which is good news for TVS Motor Company.
Yamaha’s 113cc Fascino, which now needs a facelift or two, is still the eighth top-selling scooter. It reported dispatches of 20,268 units in September, marking a decline of 4.73 percent YoY.
The old and proven scooter models, arguably preferred more by female commuters, namely the TVS Pep+ and the Hero Pleasure appear to have performed better than their previous months' retails.
While TVS Motor Company has reported despatches of 16,846 units (up 25.66 percent YoY) of the Pep+, which stands ninth in the list, volumes of Hero MotoCorp’s 100cc Pleasure, which occupies the tenth spot, volumes are 16,578 units (up 9.17 percent YoY) in September 2018.
Other high-selling scooters that did not make it to the list in September were Yamaha’s Ray series (14,192 units, down 7.87 percent YoY) and the Honda Grazia (13,001 units).
Industry experts forecast that the overall scooter demand will be able to restore its original momentum during Q3 and Q4 of this fiscal.
Also read: Top 10 Motorcycles – September 2018
Top 5 Passenger Vehicles – September 2018
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