Sucheta Dalal :Honda zips past TVS Motor to reach third spot in motorcycles
Sucheta Dalal

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Honda zips past TVS Motor to reach third spot in motorcycles  

May 14, 2010

 Honda Motorcycles & Scooter India (Pvt) Ltd (HMSI), a unit of Japanese Honda Motor Co Ltd, has emerged as the third largest motorcycle seller in the country, replacing TVS Motor Co Ltd. The only thing that saved TVS Motor from losing its third position in overall two-wheeler ranking is mopeds, where no other company has a presence at the moment.


During April, HMSI sold 58,041 units in the motorcycle category compared with TVS Motor's 49,008 units. Similarly, in scooters, HMSI, the current leader, surged ahead with 71,477 units while TVS Motor sold 25,159 units. In the mopeds category, TVS Motor sold 51,829 units compared with 40,915 units a year ago.


However, in the scooters category, HMSI is still feeling the effects of last year's workers strike and has an active waiting list. This probably has given newcomers such as Mahindra Two Wheelers Ltd and Suzuki Motorcycle India Ltd, a chance to increase sales. During April, Mahindra Two Wheelers reported total scooter sales of 9,009 units from 1,609 units while Suzuki Motorcycle sold 19,893 units of scooters compared with 8,129 units a year ago.


Earlier, while speaking with reporters, Shinji Aoyama, president and chief executive, HMSI, said that the company expects to keep its leadership in scooters but want to expand in motorcycles and by FY12 sees motorcycles sales exceeding scooters. He said until HMSI's new plant starts production, there is a limitation on production of scooters.


With an aim to penetrate the scooters market further, TVS Motor launched ‘TVS Wego’, its new 110cc scooter, in Pune and Nagpur. Over the next two months, the metal-bodied scooter with unisex styling will be made available across the country.

Hero Honda Motors Ltd, in which Honda Motors holds 26% stake, continued its leadership position in the overall two-wheeler category, despite a marginal decrease in April due to supply side constraints. Due to a shortage of batteries, the company could not dispatch about 50,000 units during April and expects the problem to be sorted out by second week of May. Bajaj Auto Ltd also maintained its second spot with robust motorcycle sales. Bajaj Auto's motorcycle sales grew 84.4% led by variants of its popular ‘Pulsar’ and ‘Discover’ brands.


While Honda is gaining ground rapidly in India either on its own or through its joint venture, the other Japanese automaker Suzuki is finding it difficult to make inroads in two-wheelers despite a strong brand image. The company's unit, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd is the country's largest carmaker. While Suzuki Motorcycle reported higher sales in the scooters category, in the motorcycles category, its sales tumbled over 65% to 1,834 units from 5,356 units, in the same month last year.


"Automobile sales continued to remain upbeat in April 2010 on a year-on-year basis on account of a low base of the corresponding month of the last year and the prevailing healthy demand environment. However, the automobile companies, except for Bajaj Auto, failed to log in a sequential sales growth compared to March 2010 mainly due to a marginal slowdown that traditionally happens in April of every year," said Sharekhan Ltd in a note.


After sales declined by about 89% during FY10, electric two-wheelers failed to get a single customer in April 2010, raising questions about their future. (Read more — Yogesh Sapkale

-- Sucheta Dalal