The other face of Yamaha

by Murali Gopalan 02 May 2022


While Yamaha is keen on building its two-wheeler presence in India, it is betting big on another business entity which is into mobility solutions and asset management.

Headed by Managing Director, Shoji Shiraishi,  MBSI (Moto Business Service India) recently kicked off operations here soon after debuting in Nigeria. Its key shareholders are Yamaha Motor Co (YMC) and Yamaha Motor Biz Partner Co, Japan.

Yet, there is really little to do with Yamaha on the business front-end since this is a different ballgame where ownership of two-wheelers takes a backseat. As Shiraishi says, the automotive ecosystem goes beyond manufacturing to areas like insurance, after-sales, spares, insurance, service, used vehicles etc. 

“We see huge potential on the other side, the so-called downstream business,” he adds. It is here that customer tastes are constantly changing with new dynamics like electrification coming into the market. Shiraishi joined YMC four years ago and was a consultant prior to this in “one of the major strategy firms globally” for two decades. “Later, I set up my own consultancy firm and I have travelled worldwide including ASEAN, Europe, the US, China, India and Japan,” he says. 

With a keen interest in the energy sector too, the MBSI chief constantly monitors all the changes coming into the core value chain for cars and bikes. Soon after joining YMC, he visited over 30 countries and five continents to see what was happening in the world of mobility. 

Shiraishi was quick to figure out that there would be massive disruptions with things becoming “more commoditised" and customers clearly not keen on owning products but seeing more value in using them instead. The asset management business was an opportunity that beckoned and the YMC-led entity kicked off mobility operations in Nigeria. 

It was clear that the motorcycle was a “good tool” to earn money for young people in terms of delivery and taxi services where demand is increasing rapidly in Nigeria. As in the case of India, Yamaha has a marginal market presence in the African country but the focus is on commercial opportunities in new mobility trends.

“We are a different business unit as much as YMC is a diversified company which makes motorcycles, marine products, robotics etc. We deal with two, three- and four-wheelers. It is an asset management company offering mobility services to the end user,” reiterates Shiraishi.

This pretty much means that he has a “very neutral’ role to play vis-a-vis Yamaha in India since MBSI deals with rival products both here and in Nigeria. These include brands such as Hero, TVS and Bajaj with the last two having a significant footprint in Africa. 

In India, where it operates out of Bengaluru, MBSI is keen on expanding its presence to Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra. Shiraishi sees demand picking up for electric scooters in the delivery business where “lots of enquiries” are already coming in. According to him, EVs are an ideal fit especially with petrol prices rising by the day. “We are carefully evaluating each of these delivery players and will then deploy vehicles for their business which will mostly be electric,” he says. 

Interestingly, YMC did a careful study of the delivery business in eastern Africa for the last couple of years which included the intricacies of last-mile delivery. “Having accumulated knowledge both in Africa and Japan, we are in talks with delivery companies here to evaluate capabilities,” explains Shiraishi.

As for Nigeria where operations began in July last year, it is a sizable market for motorcycles with Indian brands dominating the space. Public transport is “very poor” unlike India and bikes are the best bet for the locals. The company is doing its bit to help out people in terms of procuring bikes, servicing them and so on. 

Back in India, the focus is on taking care of spares, maintenance and even using second hand vehicles for rentals and leasing “as long as possible with better maintenance and optimum costs”.  MBSI has onboard some talented people with combined industry experience of over 150 years spread across two and three-wheelers in India and Africa.

Beyond Nigeria and India, the company is open to expanding in ASEAN where Yamaha has a stronger presence. “There is no reason to exclude ASEAN but we need to evaluate everything carefully,” he says. The investments planned for India this year are in the range of Rs 100 crore which will be used to buy vehicles and expand business. The company is also engaging with women riders to enable them to be taxi drivers and delivery service employees.

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