Like motorcycles, the scooter market too continues to feel the heat of the slowdown and SIAM’s recently announced April-December 2019 sales numbers reveals that the scooter segment is down 16.16 percent (4,463,954 units). However, the dampened economic and consumer sentiment has hit all scooter manufacturers but one – Suzuki, which has bucked the trend with a smart performance in the first nine months of the year.
With 5,02,971 units sold, Suzuki has recorded a 14.44 percent year-on-year growth (April-December 2019: 4,39,500) and is the sole company among seven scooters manufacturers to show growth. All other six players have recorded declines in April-December 2019 (see table below). Not surprisingly, Suzuki also has the highest gains in market share: 3 percentage points, increasing its scooter market share to 11.17 percent from the 8.25 percent a year ago. It has taken over Hero MotoCorp (7.88 percent) and is now third in the pecking order, after leader Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (55.66) and TVS Motor Co (19.35)
Access 125 powers Suzuki’s growth
The Access 125 has turned out to be a game-changer for the company. It's Suzuki's bestselling scooter and it seems to be closing the gap with the Jupiter. It's also a consistent No. 3, after the Activa and Jupiter. On January 6, the company launched the BS6-compliant version, with prices starting from Rs 64,800 for the drum CBS version, going up to Rs 69,500 for the disc CBS Special Edition. In the transition to the stricter BS6 emission norms, the scooter has switched its fuelling system from carburettor to fuel injection. In terms of output, the upgraded Access 125 produces 8.7hp at 6,750rpm and 10Nm of torque at 5,500rpm. The power output remains unchanged compared to the BS4 engines. Torque figures, however, have dropped (albeit marginally) by 0.2Nm.
Honda still leading but sees slowing growth
Longstanding market leader Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) remains in an unassailable position with a 55.66 percent market share. HMSI sold a total of 2,484,852 scooters in the first nine months of this fiscal, down a substantial 16.79 percent, albeit the rate of decline is slowing. This performance is reflected in its reduced market share – 55.66 percent versus the 56.09 percent a year ago.
The company is aggressively working to make the transition to BS6, and on September 11, 2019, it launched the BS6 Activa 125 in three variants – Standard, Alloy and Deluxe. The Standard is priced at Rs 67,490, while Alloy and Deluxe cost Rs 70,990 and Rs 74,490, respectively. This means the base BS6 Activa 125 costs an additional Rs 2,478 over the current top-spec disc variant that costs Rs 65,012 (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi).
TVS Motor Co's share closes in on 20 percent mark
TVS Motor Co, the No. 2 scooter OEM in terms of volumes, is the only other OEM (after Suzuki) to see its market share grow: 19.35 percent from 18.47 percent a year ago. The company sold 8,63,605 units, down 12.16 percent YoY (April-December 2018: 9,83,257).
On November 27, 2019, a day after TVS rolled out its first BS6-compliant two-wheeler, the Apache RTR, it expanded its BS6 product range with its popular Jupiter scooter, which is equipped with ET-Fi (Ecothrust Fuel injection) technology. The BS6 TVS Jupiter Classic ET-Fi is priced at Rs 67,911 (ex-showroom Delhi).
Launched in 2013, the Jupiter remains the bestselling TVS scooter and is the No. 2 bestselling scooter in India. It crossed the million unit sales mark 30 months after launch and has a customer base of over 3 million customers. The TVS Jupiter is available in four variants – Base, ZX (Disc and Drum), Classic and Grande.
The NTorq 125 is another strong performer for TVS. The snazzy-looking 125cc scooter, launched on February 5, 2018, has raced past 3,70,000 unit sales in less than 19 months.
Hero MotoCorp scooter share down to 7.88 percent
Hero MotoCorp has seen its scooter market share fall in the first nine months of the ongoing fiscal. With 3,51,576 units, sales are down a sizeable 37.82 percent (April-December 2018: 5,65,437). This performance has a direct impact on its market share, which is down to 7.88 from last year's 10.62 percent, and also losing the No. 3 podium position to Suzuki.
Nonetheless, Hero MotoCorp is looking to cash in on the growing demand for 125cc scooters. In May this year, it launched the Maestro Edge 125 in three variants – a carburettor drum brake variant priced at Rs 58,500, a carburettor disc brake variant at Rs 60,000 and a fuel-injected variant at Rs 62,700 (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi). Hero’s second offering in the 125cc segment, after the Destini 125, faces competition from other similarly conceptualised scooters like the TVS NTorq (Rs 59,900) and the Honda Grazia (from Rs 60,723).
Yamaha revs up with new BS6 products
India Yamaha Motor, with sales of 2,08,091 units, has seen a sales decline of 27 percent YoY; market share is down to 4.66 from 5.36 percent a year ago. On December 19, 2019, Yamaha launched its first BS6-compliant scooter – the Fascino 125 at Rs 66,430, along with the Ray ZR 125 and the Ray ZR 125 Street Rally that'll replace the current Ray ZR scooters, but their prices were not revealed.
Piaggio does marginally better
Piaggio with its Vespa and Aprilia brands has seen its market share grow marginally to 1.17 percent from 1.16 percent a year ago. The company sold a total of 52,143 units compared to 61,953 units in April-December 2018.
All OEMs are currently busy implementing the emission technology upgrade to BS6, which has led to a 7-10 percent increase in costs. Will consumers take the price increase in their stride and will the tide turn in the new year? Watch this space.