Yamaha Motor has projected two-wheeler sales of 8.06 lakh units in India by the end of this calendar. Vietnam is marginally ahead with 8.11 lakh units while Indonesia continues to be the leader of the pack with 1.4 million units. Taiwan and Thailand are way behind with 2.56 lakh and 2.41 lakh two-wheelers each.

These forecasts were made at Yamaha’s half-yearly results in Japan recently where it is amply evident that it is only a matter of time before India heads the overall rankings. This can be gleaned from the fact that Indonesia numbers have been in free fall lately from a high of 2.37 million units in 2014 to 1.79 million the following year and projected to further slump by end-2016.

In contrast, India has been on a steady upward course registering sales of 5.67 lakh and 5.95 lakh units over the last two years with this year’s forecast showing a distinct jump. This is also a result of the Chennai plant being recently commissioned whose capacity will be increased in phases to 1.8 million units.

Vietnam has consistently been ahead of India with sales of 6.43 lakh and 71.9 lakh though the difference will be a mere 5,000 units by the end of this year. Going by the present pace of growth, it will end up trailing India whose tally will have comfortably crossed a million units by end-2017.

The Indonesian economy is in the midst of a slowdown and it is very likely that things will be back on track eventually. Yet, its overall two-wheeler market is barely a third of India’s which only means that its potential is comparatively limited as a result. This puts in context why India could end up topping the Yamaha map by the end of this decade.

In the company’s half yearly presentation, overall bike and scooter numbers in India are forecast to be in the range of 17.5 million units by end-2016 while Indonesia and Vietnam are pegged at 5.5 million and 2.99 million units respectively.

Yet, the big difference is that Yamaha only needs to contend with Honda in these ASEAN regions while India is a far more competitive arena. There are strong local companies like Hero, Bajaj and TVS in addition to Honda and it is only lately that Yamaha has hit the sweet spot with its scooter range.

From its point of view, the good thing about India is that there is still a lot of potential to grow especially when scooters are increasingly becoming the preferred mode of transport. On a larger global context, Yamaha will also use the country as one of its sourcing hubs to keep the overall cost structure in check.

The next big opportunity for India could come from Africa. Right now, things are wobbly in the continent but once markets like Nigeria recover, Yamaha is hoping to have motorcycles shipped out of its Chennai plant here. This is where products like the recently launched Saluto RX 110cc motorcycle become critical components of the roadmap for Africa.