The Japanese auto giant recorded a 26 percent surge in its bike sales volume during the month, against just 3 percent for Bajaj
In August, for the first time this year, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, a company better known in this country for its scooters, sold more motorcycles in a month than Bajaj Auto.
In the process it also rose to the second spot in motorbike sales, behind Hero MotoCorp.
The Japanese two-wheeler heavyweight sold 179,086 units in wholesales in August as against Bajaj Auto’s 178,028 units during the same month, according to data supplied by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
Bajaj Auto, once renowned for its scooters, quit that segment a decade ago to focus exclusively on motorcycles.
Known for the Activa scooter brand, Honda recorded the highest motorcycle volume growth in August, at 26 percent, against the same month last year. This was much higher than the 10 percent growth recorded by the industry, which comprises of 11 companies.
Bajaj recorded volume growth of 3 percent during the same month.
Motorcycle sales have been on the upswing since the lockdown was lifted, riding on demand from rural pockets. Scooters, on the other hand, rely on the urban buyer and have seen a fall.
Domestic bike sales in July and August inched up 3 percent whereas scooter volumes during the same period fell 24 percent, according to the SIAM data.
Motorcycles now command a bigger share in Honda’s portfolio. In August, motorcycles’ share stood at 41 percent, up from 36 percent in the same month last year, with scooters accounting for the rest.Riding on the Hornet and X-Blade
Part of the reason for the spike in Honda’s sales is incremental dispatches of the Hornet 2.0, which was launched in August, and the X-Blade, launched in July.
Speaking to Moneycontrol, YS Guleria, Director (sales and marketing) HMSI, said: “We had to fill up the network with the physical availability of X-Blade and Hornet 2.0. The initial response for the Hornet has been very good. The feedback has been very positive about the test rides, which have grown by 70 percent.”
Bajaj, meanwhile, had no new launches under its own brand during the last two months. Thanks to Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra and its neighbouring States, and Onam in Kerala, there was a general uptick in retail demand in August. However, certain pockets in States such as Maharashtra continued to witness lockdowns, which not only impacted retail sales but production as well.
“In terms of the spread of the virus, urban India has been more impacted than the rural market. Once the government announced that the lockdown will be limited to the containment zones, we saw the urban market picking up,” Guleria added.New rural strategy
To capture a larger slice of the rural pie, Honda is devising a multi-pronged approach. New budget motorcycles are being planned specifically targeting the rural customer. Hero MotoCorp generates more than half of its sales from rural and semi-urban areas, with products such as the Splendor and HF Delux.“The lower bike segment, in terms of pricing, is where we have not been able to cater to the rural market, especially after BS-VI was introduced. This will be the area of focus for us. Similarly the Hornet 2.0 area is where Honda would like to expand its product portfolio, catering to fun biking and motorcycle enthusiasts,” Guleria added.