Bajaj Auto's Rakesh Sharma: ‘The two-wheeler industry is currently at an inflection point.’

by Sricharan R 25 Oct 2021


The move toward electrification is going to re-energise the industry according to Rakesh Sharma, Executive Director, Bajaj Auto. He was speaking at day one of Autocar Professional’s mega week-long two-wheeler conclave. He kicked off the event with his thoughts in sync with the day’s theme focussing on 'Industry Regains Momentum'.

“The two-wheeler industry is currently at an inflection point. It is a great time for people who are ready to embrace change. Sometimes, we need discontinuation to reinvent the industry. The move to electrification is a good way to reinvent the wheel. It will help reconnect with the customer even more powerfully. Also, this is a global opportunity for India,” the executive director added.  

He mentioned that like Bajaj Auto, everyone is prepared for the EV storm and are preparing for the 'landfall'. The company will also be setting up a 100 percent subsidiary for driving the electric business. “It is like a new business. And, we are not paranoid about the volume. We have plans to enter more cities,” Sharma said.

Regaining momentum
“The two-wheeler industry is one of the best industries to be in,” he stated. Be it the dealers, spare parts maker or consumers, it is a good place to be in. But, since FY2019 the industry for one reason or other has been in decline.

“The two-wheeler industry is a good indicator of the demand at the bottom of the pyramid. These are essential products and its growth has a multiplier effect on people and the economy. Right now, the demand is in the negative and Covid-19 has surely impacted. The festive season has shown some positive signs but not fully and we expect demand to pick up in the second half of the season,” he pointed out.

Rakesh Sharma also stated that the GST recognising two-wheelers and four-wheelers as different product categories, will help revive demand. “The four-wheeler demand has behaved differently. The fundamental demand price elasticity are different from a two-wheeler,”

According to him, if there is a move to offer relief on the purchase side and income taxes and if there could be steps to put more money in the pockets of middle-class consumers, it could help drive the demand in India. “Demand is strongest in the mid-level motorcycles," the ED explained.

He hgighlighted the “need to be prepared for the long haul,” despite the short-term challenges and pointed out that customer service, R&D and manufacturing are the key focus areas for the longer term.

Tackling challenges
During the interaction he also said that new measures from China may choke the circulation of containers. “I am bracing myself up for it,” he expressed. It should take almost up to a year to get things back to normal.

“The whole horizon of managing is now reduced to a quarter and a month even for top management. We need to be agile about considering short-term uncertainties and put counter measures into place,” he added.

Register now for the two-wheeler conclave
This is a must-attend event for all stakeholders of the industry and in case you haven’t already, Register now to ensure your participation everyday of this power-packed last week of October. Participants can hear and share their views and also pose questions. At Autocar Professional we try to take up all our viewer questions and maximise the value of every minute that all of you share with us. Remember to join us at 10 am every morning between October 25-29, 2021.

Here is a day-wise split of the topics for the remaining days of the Two-Wheeler Week.

October 26 – The Race To Go Electric
10-10:30 am- Sudarshan Venu, Joint MD, TVS Motor Company

10:35- 11:35 am
-Ravneet Phokela, Chief Business Officer, Ather Energy
-Kabir Bhandari, Padmini VNA Mechatronics
-Shivalik Prasad, VP (Sales & Alliances), Sibros
-Arjun Jain, Business Head - Electrical/Electronics at Varroc Group

October 27 – Road to Greener Mobility
10- 10:30 am - Diego Graffi, CEO & MD, Piaggio Vehicles

10:35- 11:35 am
-Mahua Acharya, MD & CEO, Convergence Energy Services (CESL)
-Anumita Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director, Research & Advocacy, Centre for Science and Enviornment (CSE)
-Sanjeev Saxena, President, Automotive Technologies, Schaeffler India
-Pankaj Dubey, Co-founder & CEO, Power Global India

October 28 – Emerging Safety Trends and Challenges
10- 10:30 am -Krishan Kohli, Head India Market — BU HBS & VED and MD, Continental Automotive Brake Systems India

10:35- 11:35 am
Piyush Tewari, Founder & CEO, SaveLife Foundation
Uri Lavi, CEO & Co-founder, Ride Vision
Renuka Srinivasan, Sales Director, Dassault Systemes

October 29 – Premium Biking and the Way Forward
10- 10:30 am - Exclusive conversation with top premium biking manufacturers across India

10:35- 11:35 am
Bipul Chandra, MD, Ducati India
Shoeb Farooq, Business head- Triumph Motorcycles
Ravi Avalur, Head - New Business Unit, Harley-Davidson India