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Bike sales in free fall, down 8.22 per cent

OUR MUMBAI BUREAU | Updated on March 12, 2015

Falling incomes in rural India probable cause for drop in motorcycle sales

There is no respite for motorcycles with February turning out to be yet another bad month for sales. Numbers were down 8.22 per cent to 7.74 lakh units from 8.43 lakh units recorded in the same period last year. Scooters, on the contrary, continued to grow with February recording an 18.78 increase to 3.70 (3.11) lakh units.

Numbers game

According to data published by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers this week, cumulative sales of motorcycles were up 3.24 per cent from 9.57 million units last year to 9.88 million units in April-February 2015. Scooter sales increased by 26.59 per cent to 4.1 (3.24) million units clearly indicating the shift in buyer preferences.

The slide for motorcycles, which began last October, is a result of falling disposable incomes in rural India which is a big market for entry-level commuter motorcycles. Things have got worse over the last few weeks thanks to untimely rains in the western region which has destroyed critical crops.

These erratic weather patterns have caused huge losses to farmers who are in dire need of a bailout package from the Government. It is only natural, therefore, that sales of tractors and commuter bikes have nosedived in the process.

Eye on the future

With March showing no signs of any improvement, this is a fiscal which bike makers would rather forget in a hurry. Observers believe things could start looking up from June which means the early part of 2015-16 may not carry happy tidings either.

The rise in scooter sales is understandable since this is a largely urban product where inadequate public transport and chaotic traffic conditions are fuelling demand.

Export respite

Motorcycle exports are, of course, a different story where Bajaj Auto is the clear leader. Despite this, February saw a five per cent fall to 1.63 lakh units for the industry thanks largely to the ongoing political crisis in Nigeria. Despite this, bike exports for the 11 months of this fiscal have shown a near 16 per cent increase at 2.1 (1.81) million units with the new fiscal promising to continue the momentum.

The bigger worry, though, is getting things back on track for motorcycles in India.

Published on March 12, 2015

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