Honda Motorcycle inching closer to Bajaj for number 2 slot


MUMBAI: Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India is inching closer to the No. 2 slot in the highly competitive Indian motorcycle market, with less than 10,000 units separating the maker of Activa from Pune based rival Bajaj AutoBSE 1.78 %.

Honda sold 1.46 million units in the nine months ended December, which was 9,571 units short of Bajaj Auto’s 1.47 million units, according to data published by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Although scooters have driven growth in India for Japan’s largest two-wheeler maker, the company has quietly built up significant scale in the motorcycle market, with volumes likely to cross 2 million in FY18.

However, Bajaj Auto is not likely to let go of its position easily, with the new Discover family. The maker of Pulsar bikes continues to hold steady in the premium segment and its entry-level bikes are contributing a decent share. The company has indicated monthly sales of 2 lakh motorcycles in the coming months, led by incremental numbers of the new Discover.

Honda Motorcycle is the strong No. 2 company in the overall Indian two-wheeler market, with a 29% market share in the April-to-December period.

“We are not targeting any rankings – we are focused on selling our bikes,” YS Guleria, senior VP for sales and marketing at Honda Motorcycle, told ET, adding that the company is on course to achieve volumes of 2 million units. “Demand for our motorcycles was very strong during the year and that is why we have handsomely outpaced the market. The demand momentum is sustaining post-festive season and we are likely to end the year on a strong footing.”
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Motorcycles account for 34% of the company’s sales, which increased 23% to 1.46 million units in the first nine months of FY18. Strong demand for the Shine executive motorcycle and growing volumes in the 150-180 cc space due to the 150 cc Unicorn helped the company outpace the market.

Shine is today the third-largest selling motorcycle in the country and accounts for almost half of Honda’s motorcycle volumes.

The company’s attempt to break into the mass market 100-110 cc segment continues to be challenging, with leader Hero Moto-Corp continuing to rule that space with Splendor and HF.

Honda’s growth of 23% in the first nine months was more than double the market growth of 10% and the company’s market share has jumped over 200 basis points in FY18. Although Honda Motorcycle commissioned fresh capacity at its Karnataka factory just last August, the company is likely to face capacity constraint.

Guleria said Honda will attain the stated target of 6 million units and may possibly do more by improving manufacturing line efficiencies in the coming months. economictimes