Shootout: Entry-level Luxury Bikes Segment, India
Indian 2 wheeler Market was the only rejoice in the ailing Indian Automobile Industry. While Industry experts believed that Hero Motor Corp would suffer after its divorce with its Japanese partner Honda, Hero proved all the analysts wrong by beating the market expectations. During the first half of the year Hero’s market share grew marginally to 73 percent from a market share of 70 percent last year. HMP also recorded its all time highest retails of 6.5 Lakh units in October 2011.
Now coming to the Luxury Performance Bike market in India, Hero again has been the first mover in this category. It launched Karizma way back in 2003 and can be easily crowned as India’s first ‘realistic’ superbike. It not only marked the entry of performance biking but also allowed Indian Bikers to elevate from the traditional 100cc/150cc category. But volumes were minimal, Indians weren’t ready to shell out the money just for the premium price tag and was meant unsuitable for the Indian roads.
But as our Infrastructure & Economy improved, the bike found many takers. Indian Bikers were slowly inclined towards much powerful and good-looking bikes. Larger and Meaner bikes found place in the garages of many Indian homes. Such was the craze that motivated much premium brands like Harley, Ducati, Hyosung, etc.. to set shops in Indian soil.
As we all know, Indians like to be ‘spoilt for choice’. Hence there was the launch of India’s first of its kind ‘super sport bike’ – Yamaha YZF R15. This 150 cc monster instantly won hearts over and became the face of Yamaha’s performance oriented culture. It also played a vital role in reviving Yamaha’s identity in the Indian terrain. This slowly turned out to be the crowned jewel in Yamaha’s stable. It re-defined the ways of Indian 2-wheeler enthusiasts thought about a performance bike. R15 set many benchmarks in terms of design, ride-quality, performance and overall appeal. It also proved to be a crowd puller in many of its showrooms which also improved the sales of its sister brands too.
And 2011 saw the competition heated up. Indian 2-wheeler space generated interest in Bike Manufacturers throughout the world and these manufacturers were pretty serious about the size the country had to offer. Honda’s R&D gave birth to a product that was specially designed and manufactured keeping developing countries into mind. The overall proportions of the new baby – CBR 250R never made it look like a 250cc segment bike. It put the elder siblings to shame. It was launched in early 2011 and garnered tremendous bookings in the Indian soil.
The sales numbers were as follows –
Although the overall size of the luxury bikes market accounts to around only 1% of the Industry; it is bound to grow exponentially . This is evident from the fact that Honda sold more than 11000 of CBR 250R just within 6 months of its launch – even though there were major supply issues after the Japan earthquake. And the recent upgrade of the Yamaha R15 (version 2.0) clearly signifies the seriousness of the manufacturers in this space. Even Bajaj is planning for a 250cc Pulsar anytime soon in early 2012. Also Suzuki would be launching a 250cc bike in the same space.
Keep looking for much activity in this segment. This is obviously the most sought after space in the Indian market now (not for generating volumes, but for creating the brand for the manufacturer).