Identities change fast in a
consumer's market. That's what seems to have happened
to Hero Honda and Bajaj Auto. The motorcycle czar now
sells more scooters than the scooter king.
In April, Hero Honda sold over 6,000
scooters against 2,000 sold by Bajaj Auto, a company
synonymous with scooters in India. And don't be
surprised if the trend holds true for the rest of the
year as well.
Bajaj Auto attributes it to their
decision to clean-up their scooter portfolio before
they launch new scooters models later this financial
year. “We have stopped producing all existing scooters
models and are cleaning up our stocks.
The only model being produced by us
right now is Wave, but this also, we are not pushing
very aggressively,” says S Sridhar, vice president
(sales & marketing), two wheelers, Bajaj Auto.
He says, Bajaj's current scooter
portfolio is outdated and it doesn't make sense to
invest in their marketing and distribution. “Both
Chetak and Wave were 'me too' product. We now want to
bring scooters sporting new technologies to
differentiate ourselves from others,” Mr Sridhar told
Hero Honda is also playing it cool.
“We have surpassed Bajaj in scooters and may well
end-up out-selling them in the whole financial year as
well. But it's more a default rather than by design.
They have almost stopped producing
scooters and have plans to bring-out new models,” says
PS Sunder, head, marketing, Hero Honda. He says the
company's long-term plan is to lead the scooter
segment, as they do in the motorcycle market.
The tiny and slow growing scooter
market is now led by Honda Motorcycle and Scooters
India (HMSI) with TVS Motors, a distant second. Hero
Honda is now the third largest player in the segment.
Once the dominant segment in
two-wheelers, scooters accounted for a mere 13% of all
two-wheelers sold in the domestic market in '05-06.
Scooter sales declined marginally during the year as
against 14% growth shown by two-wheelers.