The highest volume-grossing segment in the Indian automobile sector registered strong growth in the penultimate month of CY2017 with most manufacturers recording positive, above-expectation numbers. However, it would help to know that the figures are relative to the low base of November 2016, when sales across the industry had hit rock bottom due to the government's demonetisation drive.
India’s No 1 two-wheeler brand, Hero MotoCorp sold a total of 605,270 units, registering a growth of 26 percent (November 2016: 479,856). Of this, the company sold 525,224 motorcycles and 80,046 scooters, including its Maestro Edge, Duet and Pleasure gearless offerings.
Sales of its commuter motorcycles, which include the Splendor, Passion, HF Deluxe and the Glamour continue to be the main growth drivers. The company is looking to re-enter the midsize 200cc capacity segment and last month unveiled its XPulse concept, with adventure tourer credentials, at the EICMA Show in Milan. With no set deadline for its launch, the adventurer tourer is expected to be introduced sometime in CY2018 in the Indian market.
Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India posted sales of 432,350 units in November, recording a considerable 44 percent growth (November 2016: 299,414). Motorcycles contributed 150,606 units (+56%, November 2016: 96,338), while scooter sales clocked 281,744 units, recording a 39 percent growth (November 2016: 203,076), also owing to contribution from the newly introduced 125cc Grazia scooter, which went past the 15,000 units mark until the end of the month since its launch on November 8.
According to Yadvinder Singh Guleria, senior vice-president (Sales & Marketing), Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, “Demonetisation last November definitely created a low base effect but the demand in November was visible. While the Activa legacy goes strong, the new scooter Grazia ensured that excitement continued even after the festive season. The motorcycle sales momentum was led by rural demand. Creating a new record, Honda sales crossed the 4,000,000 mark in November. While it took nearly eight years for Honda to achieve this mark, the latest 40 lakh customers have joined the Honda family in just eight months.”
TVS Motor Company clocked cumulative sales of 203,138 units, up 6.1 percent (November 2016: 191,499). While scooter sales stood at 78,397 units, growing 7.2 percent (November 2016: 73,135), motorcycles sold 93,202 units, registering a notable growth of 37.3 percent (November w016: 67,896). The company is all set to continue this momentum in its motorcycle sales and will launch the highly anticipated TVS Apache RR310, developed in conjunction with BMW, on December 6 in India. The bike will directly compete with the likes of the Bajaj Dominar, Kawasaki Ninja 300 and the KTM Duke and RC siblings.
Bajaj Auto saw its sales remaining near flat at 141,948 units being sold, a marginal growth of 2 percent (November 2016: 139,765). The Pulsar continues to be its sales driver, aloing with the CT100 in the commuter segment.
Royal Enfield registered cumulative sales of 67,776 units, posting growth of 21 percent (November 2016: 55,843). The company also recently showcased its new 650cc twin-cylinder motor at the EICMA 2017. The engine will formulate two newly developed products in the mid-size category, the Interceptor INT 650 and Continental GT 650. Once introdued next year, Royal Enfield will be gunning for the midsize segment in India, as well as in mature markets, including Europe, Australia and North America.
Suzuki Motorcycle India posted sales of 42,722 units, growing 39 percent (November 2016: 30,830). The cumulative numbers between April-November 2017 stand at 3,80,950 units, putting the company to be on a grwoth trajectory of 38 percent (April-November 2016: 2,75,513).
According to Sajeev Rajasekhran, EVP, Sales and Marketing, SMIPL, “The consistent growth is a testament to the successful fructification of the new product strategy at Suzuki Two-Wheelers where we have aligned our focus on the premium segment of scooters (125cc and above), and premium motorcycles (150cc and above). Under this renewed focus, we also launched the much-awaited Intruder motorcycle, a 150cc modern cruiser in November. We are expanding our touch-points in regions which clock sales of over 1,000 units each month, in these two product categories. With a sound go-to market strategy in place, along with a robust and aggressive product roadmap; we are confident that Suzuki Motorcycle India’s best days are ahead of us.”
That’s a vision that most companies would want to have as the market gears up for December.