Hero MotorCorp, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor Company sold more two-wheelers outside the country than ever before in a year after local demand suffered a setback following incessant rise in product and fuel prices.

These three Indian brands have made inroads not only in developing markets of Latin America, Asia and Africa but also in the developed markets of Europe, US and Japan. Like in India, the three companies compete against each other in several overseas markets besides competing with the traditional heavyweights Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha and some Chinese companies.

These three companies control over 60 percent of India’s domestic two-wheeler sales.

Pune-based Bajaj Auto, India’s third largest two-wheeler producer, sold more two-wheelers outside of India than within the country in a year in 2021, a first for the company. Export share in Bajaj Auto’s total sales in 2021 stood at nearly 56 percent as against 49.44 percent in 2020.

The 125cc plus segment contributed 41 percent of two-wheeler volumes during 2021 while its flagship brand Pulsar achieved its highest ever export sales. Pulsar remained the dominant two-wheeler brand in Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, Bangladesh and Egypt. Boxer, a bike brand withdrawn from India, is the best-selling brand in key African nations.

While exports of Bajaj Auto in 2021 grew 32.5 percent to 2.23 million (1.68 million in 2020), domestic volumes in comparison grew by only 3.76 percent during the same year to 1.78 million units (1.72 million in 2020).

Country-specific models

Chennai-based TVS Motor Company also expanded its export market last year, clocking sales of more than 1 million units two-wheelers for the first time. The maker of Apache and Jupiter, TVS’s export contribution grew to 34 percent in 2021 from 24.44 percent in 2020, as per data shared by the company.

Demand from South Asia, West Africa and Latin America helped TVS to grow exports by 71 percent to 1.09 million units in 2021 (6.43 lakh in 2020). TVS has the highest number of two-wheeler brand offerings outside of India than within the country including motorcycles, scooters and mopeds. Some of these models are specific to that country or region and won’t be found in other parts of the world.

Domestic demand for TVS remained subdued during 2021. The company posted a growth of 6 percent with sales of 2.11 million units in 2021 (1.98 million in 2020).

Hero MotoCorp, India’s largest two-wheeler maker, also significantly expanded its export market. After separating from Honda more than a decade ago the Delhi-based company has been focussing on expanding its global market. The company even opened a few assembly plants such as in Columbia and Bangladesh.

Compared to Bajaj Auto and TVS, Hero’s export volumes are smaller. The export share of in the Munjal family-promoted company grew to 5.4 percent in 2021 compared to 3 percent in 2020. The company clocked a growth of 71 percent in export volumes to 2.89 lakh in 2021 (1.69 lakh in 2020).

High cost of ownership, bad rural sentiment, work from home practice and the latest threat of omicron impacted sales of two-wheelers in India during December, noted the Federation of Automobile Dealer Association (FADA).

“Thetwo-wheelersegment has been the most impacted, as affordability and demand sentiments was hit sharply by the second wave. The reduced discretionary income due to job losses, salary cuts and/or Covid-induced medical expenses, coupled with relentless increase in two-wheeler prices, record high petrol rates, uneven monsoons and delayed harvest, and moderation in financing availability, have significantly impacted the industry’s prospects, especially in the entry segment,” ICRA said in a report.