Bike makers rev up focus in sports segment

Written by Rachit Vats | Mumbai | Updated: Feb 16 2014, 05:39am hrs
BikeMotorbike makers are now looking to spruce up their portfolios in the coming months. Reuters
Anticipating more buyers in the premium sports segment, motorbike makers are now looking to spruce up their portfolios in the coming months, with about 10-12 launches lined up for this year.

Bajaj, Hero and TVS, among others, are bullish about the sports segment (150cc to 400cc) to grow in volumes from 14.6% now to about 25-30% of the total market in three years.

In the past seven to eight years, the share of the premium segment has increased from 10% to 17% in the industry. With improved road network and affordability, and with people upgrading to the powerful/leisure category, there exists a clear case of volume growth far superior than that in the mass market segment, says Aashiesh Agarwaal, head (research), Edelweiss Financial Services.

Bajaj Auto, which dominates the segment with its Pulsar range, and holds 35% market share in the sports category, showcased two new variants Pulsar CS 400 and the Pulsar SS 400 at the recent Auto Expo. These bikes will be launched in the current fiscal and are expected to cost over Rs 1.5 lakh. The company also markets Kawasaki Ninja 250R and KTM 200 Duke in India.

We already enjoy a dominant market share in the segment and want it to grow. For us, Pulsar is the model that represents the sports segment and thats where our new offerings are, says K Srinivas, president (motorcycle business), Bajaj Auto.

Rival Hero MotoCorp, too, displayed a 250cc bike, Hero HX 250R, developed with technology partner Erik Buell Racing, at the Auto Expo a step up from its most powerful 225-cc Karizma ZMR. The bike, seen as being more powerful than its nearest competitor, Honda CBR 250R, is expected to be priced around R1.3 lakh. Suzuki, which is looking to grow its portfolio in India, aims to launch the Gixxer 155cc, 4-stroke engine bike, along with the 250cc Inazuma over the next few months. Mahindra, too, took the covers off its much awaited 300cc Mojo motorcycle.

The premium segment might be impacted in a slowing economy. However, once the market recovers, the segment will grow much faster, says a Hero MotoCorp executive, not wanting to be named, adding, While 150cc is the volume driver in this segment, there are buyers looking at power without considering mileage. Thats a step-up for us.

As per experts, margins in the premium segment are double than those in the entry and the executive segments. At about 15-17% volumes, the value contribution of the premium segment is about 22% of the total domestic motorcycle sales. This is because of the high margins in the sports segment, says Mahantesh Sabarad, deputy head for research at SBICAP Securities.