The second wave of the Covid pandemic is happening at a time when it is the wedding season in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. This is the period when high sales are generally recorded in April and May but with showrooms shut, auto retails have gone for a toss.
“These two months are normally good for two-wheeler retail because of the marriage season. While weddings are still happening in these regions, dealerships are closed,” says Vinkesh Gulati, president, Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA).
Two-wheeler sales account for 30 percent in these regions with the Hero Splendor and Bajaj Pulsar right on top of the list when it comes to wedding gifts. Today, nearly 70 percent of these 30 percent sales “have gone to zero”. In the current circumstances where only limited gatherings are allowed at family functions, there is really no question of showing off (with fancy gifts like bikes), says Gulati.
Once that moment is lost, nobody is going to think of buying a Pulsar or Splendor either which means it is an opportunity lost for the manufacturer/dealer. Despite online-buying options available, there are really no fresh bookings happening in these states.
Data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) earlier this month showed two-wheeler wholesales crashing to 995,000 units in April from nearly 1.5 million units in the preceding month. FADA retail numbers showed a 28 percent month-on-month fall to 865,000 (1.34 million) units.
It is now quite clear that the first quarter of this fiscal has been a disaster for two-wheeler makers especially when they have not been able to capitalise on big ticket occasions like the marriage season. Brands like Hero, Honda, Yamaha and Royal Enfield have shut down operations temporarily while the likes of Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor will focus on meeting their export commitments. It is critical that the domestic market starts firing on all cylinders again and this will only happen when the second Covid wave begins tapering off.