Harley Davidson, Royal Enfield defy sales slump

Written by Rachit Vats | Mumbai | Updated: Aug 23 2013, 15:52pm hrs
Harley DavidsonAmerican iconic brand Harley-Davidson has increased market share and grew 48% to 586 units.
Even as the staple segments in the domestic two-wheeler industry including the 125-250 cc bikes witnessed a slowdown in demand, the premium motorcycle segment that comprises the likes of Royal Enfield, Harley Davidson and others, delivered strong growth in the April-July period of this fiscal, driven by younger customers and expanding dealership network.

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers data, the premium segment, which comprises motorcycles with the engine capacity above 350cc till 1,600cc, grew by 49% to 54,425 units for the April-July period this year, at a time when the overall two-wheelers, comprising scooters and motorcycles, decline by 2% to 57,90,184 units.

Further, the commuter segment comprising 110-200cc that includes models such as Bajajs Boxer, Platina and Discover; Yamaha and TVS; the sales remained flat at 0.5% to 10,84,735 units for the same period.

The maximum growth came in from the premium segment and the scooters. In the premium segment, Royal Enfield which occupies about 95% market share grew 48% to 53,557 units during the period even as other players including American iconic brand Harley-Davidson increased market share and grew 48% to 586 units.

The current economic scenario has so far not have had any impact on the premium end of the two-wheeler market. The main driving forces here are the youth who are going after the sportier looking and more powerful cars, said Surjit Arora, research analyst Prabhudas Lilladher.

Royal Enfield, the largest player in the segment, currently has 275 dealers across India up by about 10% from the previous fiscal. While its bikes priced between 70,000 and 2-lakh range may have waiting period of at least three months for some of its models, is selling like hotcakes despite poor after sales issues.

The company is looking at introducing newer models soon which will be more expensive than the existing range.

Royal Enfield is on an extremely strong wicket now and we are continuing to take in much more orders than even our new production that we are doing, Eicher Motors MD & CEO Siddhartha Lal said.

In July we crossed 16,000 production yet we are building our order book further. It basically continues to be fuelled by our strong network expansion in the market. I believe in the next 12 months the growth should hold up, he said.

While Royal Enfield currently does not have any true blue competition from the price point of view, it is looking at introducing more models with a higher price tag giving Harley-Davidson a run for its money.

We have 10 dealers today and three additional dealerships will open by year-end in Pune, Jaipur and Indore. Our growth can be attributed to the passion shared by our employees and the dealer network to give our customers an unparalleled ownership experience, Harley-Davidson India MD Anoop Prakash said. HD bikes are priced Rs 8 lakh onwards.

Further, the still small scooters segment grew 13% during the period. The growth in scooters was driven by Piaggio Vehicles Vespa, which took a price cut of R10,000 in January this year. Vespa grew 74% during the period to 14,683 units.

The growth in the two-wheeler segment will continue for the next few years and the segment is expected to capture at least 25-30% market share. The main drivers are lighter products with ease of accessibility, pulling in more women consumers, said Arora.