Amidst all the red ink that lies splattered across the Indian two-wheeler industry's sales reports, there is one company which is firmly bucking the slowdown: Suzuki Motorcycle India.
For the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, India Auto Inc has been in dire straits. Total vehicle sales at 20,498,128 units are down 15.85 percent year on year. All vehicle segments and sub-segments, except Utility Vehicles and M&HCV buses, are in the red due to a number of factors, including the prolonged economic slowdown, the transition to BS6, and the resultant price increase.
The two-wheeler segment, the most affordable form of motoring in the country, is also badly impacted at 16,550,770 units, which constitutes a sharp 16.15 percent decline.
While scooters are down 16.01 percent YoY (5,302,858 units), motorcycles are also down, by 15.63 percent YoY (10,643,780 units). The humble moped, of which TVS Motor Co is the sole manufacturer in India, has also been severely affected: 604,132 units (-25.37 percent).
Suzuki sole player among 13 OEMs to record growth
Look at the sales and market share details below, and you can see the extent of the hit two-wheeler OEMs have taken in the past 11 months. But narrow down your search to Suzuki and you will see that it is the sole company amongst 13 two-wheeler OEMs to record growth. With sales of 6,51,293 units in the April 2019-February 2020 period, Suzuki has not only recorded growth but also increased its two-wheeler market share to nearly 4 percent.
What has given Suzuki the charge is the handsome performance of its scooter portfolio, led by the Suzuki Access 125. If only its motorcycles had the same appeal to consumers as the scooters, then the company would have fared even better.
With scooters (6,15,898 units) accounting for 94.56 percent of Suzuki's overall two-wheeler sales, the Access 125 is clearly the game-changing product for the company and has helped push the company's scooter market share to 11.61 percent from 8.83 percent a year ago. The country's remaining six scooter makers (Bajaj Auto has just entered the fray with its Chetak), have shown negative sales. In terms of market share, Suzuki has gone ahead of Hero MotoCorp (7.08 percent), and is now third in the pecking order, after leader Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (56.64 percent) and TVS Motor Co (18.61 percent)
Suzuki’s scooter sales have contributed 11.61 percent to overall scooter industry sales in April-February 2020, up from 8.82 percent a year ago, indicating the growth of the company in this sector.
Access 125 powers Suzuki’s growth
The Access 125 has turned out to be a game-changer for the company. Suzuki's bestselling scooter seems to be closing the gap with the Jupiter and is 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 and going up to Rs 69,500 for the disc CBS Special Edition. In the transition to stricter BS6 emission norms, the scooter has switched its fuelling system from a carburettor to fuel injection. In terms of output, the upgraded Access 125 will produce 8.7hp at 6,750rpm and 10Nm of torque at 5,500rpm. The power output remains unchanged from the BS4 engines. However, torque figures have dropped (albeit marginally) by 0.2Nm.
With just a fortnight to go for BS6, Suzuki, like other OEMs, will be hoping the tide gradually turns and consumers return to showrooms, the slowed economy notwithstanding.