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Women drive the scooter's second coming

Roudra Bhattacharya New Delhi | Updated on December 16, 2011

scooters

Category posts highest sales growth in last eight months





Scooters are making a big comeback on Indian roads, riding on rising demand from women and students, especially in the smaller towns and cities.

In the personal mobility segment, which includes scooters, cars and motorcycles, it is scooters that posted the highest sales growth in the April-November 2011 period at 23.4 per cent. Of course, it was on a smaller base of 1.62 million units compared to motorcycles (6.77 million units), according to data from Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Sales up 15%

Motorcycle sales rose 15 per cent in the eight months, while the entire two-wheeler segment grew 16 per cent (8.90 million units). In the same period, car sales dipped four per cent (1.21 million), while total auto sales rose 13 per cent to 11.33 million units.

This shows a clear reversal of trends from a few years back when scooter sales had shrunk badly. Now, the category is bouncing back led by women on the move. Mr Abdul Majeed, partner and auto practice leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers says, “Before the motorcycle era in the 80s, scooters were popular with men. Older professionals in their 30s and 40s have now moved on to cars, which are now more affordable. Today two wheelers are used more by students in their 20s and women.” With more women driving, the scooter has seen product alteration with the market shifting towards gearless and light scooters that are easier to handle.

“I don't think there is a large market for big powerful scooters anymore. That customer has shifted to motorbikes,” Mr Majeed said.

A relatively new entrant in the market, Honda Motorcycle and Scooters India, already leads the segment with the ‘Activa' model commanding a waiting period of around 4-6 months.

Hero MotoCorp's only scooter model — Pleasure — is also targeted at women. So much so that it has set up a parallel sales network for its scooter product, with special stores that have women attendants.

It plans to add more products to this segment. TVS also has a strong scooter portfolio.

Smaller towns

More than the large cities, scooter sales are growing faster in the smaller towns and cities where traffic is lesser and it is often convenient for short trips, says an industry expert.

> roudra.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on December 16, 2011

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