Sunday, April 21, 2024


Retail motorcycle and scooter sales in India’s vast market traditionally peak in the autumn, during the lengthy run-up to Diwali’s Festival of Lights in early November — the Indian equivalent of Christmas. But this year, the anticipated sales boom got off to a very rocky start, as most leading manufacturers experienced a punishing September slump instead.

Worst-afflicted was Royal Enfield, with a dramatic 51.5% domestic decline to just 27,233 bikes sold. Total sales, including exports, were 44% lower. Much bigger indigenous market leader Hero MotoCorp also took a hammering, 27.5% down to 505,462. KTM associate Bajaj Auto was on the back foot too, falling by 15.9% to 192,348 on home turf, although its exports were a lot healthier.

Japanese competitors didn’t escape losses, either. Of the two releasing September sales figures, Honda’s huge Indian subsidiary HMSI admitted to a 7.4% retreat to 463,679 and Suzuki was 5.1% down to 68,012.

The only exception was TVS Motor, the own-brand domestic sales of which managed a modest 1% increase to 244,084. Besides its acquisition of Norton Motorcycles in the UK, TVS contract manufactures BMW Motorrad’s 310cc platform products for both domestic and export consumption as well.

A TVS press statement was upbeat about the situation: “With pandemic restrictions easing and the festive season approaching, we expect retail sales to improve significantly in the coming months,” this said.

Inflation was widely held to blame by Indian industry commentators. Both HMSI and Hero MotoCorp had instituted substantial price increases across their ranges at the beginning of September, to counter rapidly rising raw materials, specialist components and energy costs.


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