The continued rise in affluence of the already rich has made India one of the most attractive markets for premium and ultra-premium motorcycles in the world. But, even this segment has found itself wading through a morass over the past few quarters.
Except for a couple of new launches, the period between April-November 2019 has witnessed a widespread contraction in demand for bikes larger than 250CC. According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), sales of motorcycles sporting engines larger than 250CC have shrunk to 4.73 lakh units from 5.84 lakh units during the same period of the previous year, recording a fall of 19 per cent year-on-year.
The decline has been recorded across segments, with the largest segment in the category — 250-350CC — seeing 21 per cent drop, followed by 350-500CC (-30.66%), 1,000-1,600CC (-22.86%) and 1,600CC and above (-4.73%).
The only exceptions were the 500-800CC and 800-1,000CC segments, with the former recording a sixfold rise in sales, mainly driven by the launch of Royal Enfield’s Continental GT 650 last year. The undisputed market leader in the category, Royal Enfield, saw its sales in the 500-800CC segment surge from 325 units in April-November 2018 to 15,196 units this year, even as its overall sales in the 250CC plus segment shrunk by 19.07 per cent. For the 800-1,000CC category, sales remained flat at 707 units, against 703 units a year ago.
New launches also slightly mitigated the impact on sales in the premium segment’s entry category of 250-350CC. Here, Honda Motorcycles and Scooter India’s launch of the CB range of bikes have boosted sales for the company, going from nil units last year to 516 units this year.
Company-wise, the majority of motorcycle-makers with products in the premium and ultra premium categories have seen sales crash. If SIAM’s sales data are any indication, the impact has been more pronounced for firms operating in the ultra-premium segment.
Harley-Davidson India has seen its sales plunge 69.16 per cent as of November this financial year, offtake falling from 2,131 units to 657 units. Triumph Motorcycles found demand falling 45 per cent, selling only 394 units compared to 716 units the previous year. Suzuki Motorcycles also saw sales halve from 716 units to 394 units.