70% of the market for gearless bike comes from South and West

“The Ray is getting customers for Yamaha which is good for the brand. From our point of view, it literally offers more than a ray of hope in the commuter space,” Roy Kurian, National Business Head of the Indian arm, told Business Line.

People in this user category give top priority to mileage, price and durability, attributes which Yamaha believes the Ray offers as a complete package.

“It is not even six months old since we launched the product and it is already doing 10,000 units a month,” Kurian added.

Gearless scooters account for 20 per cent of India’s two-wheeler sales and, from Yamaha’s viewpoint, is a component which will increase significantly in the coming years. The Ray has been targeted at women in the 18-24 age group and will be followed by more scooters for specific user segments.

Not everyone in the two-wheeler industry is convinced that scooters will sustain their good growth. “Motorcycles still have the advantage of higher mileage and will, in fact, grow faster in the coming years,” an automotive expert said. This, perhaps, explains why traditional scooter makers like Bajaj Auto have opted to focus on bikes.

Yamaha is, however, not deterred. “India is a very young country where two-thirds of the population is under 30. Further, penetration levels are still very low which means we have tremendous opportunities to grow,” Kurian said.

Nearly 70 per cent of the market for the Ray comes from the South and West which are characterised by “higher awareness and literacy levels”. The East is also an important region, while the North-East has been “a wonderful surprise with extremely progressive customers who love Yamaha”.

The company today has three distinct entities which focus on R&D, marketing and manufacturing.

“These arms are intended to take the India story forward. We are more focused which will help us realise our numbers in the coming years,” Kurian said.

Yamaha has also indicated that it will manufacture the world’s lowest priced two-wheelers here as part of its endeavour to get a 10 per cent market share (translated into two million bikes and scooters annually) over the next five years.

Further, India will become a critical production hub which could see high-end bikes exported to Asean and Japan, while cheaper alternatives will head out to Africa.

Yamaha will also use the country as one of its four regional procurement bases (the others being Japan, China and Asean) to source parts for global operations.

murali.gopalan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on May 6, 2013)
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