Bajaj Auto is fast losing ground in the domestic motorcycle space and its market share is currently at a low of 21%. Market watchers attribute the Pune-headquartered firm’s weakening presence to Japanese major Honda’s aggression in the executive segment, which accounts for about a fifth of the 10-million-unit motorcycle market.
“Bajaj appears to have yielded a fair bit of share in the 125 cc segment to Honda,” said an analyst, adding that Honda has cashed in on its brand recognition given its long association with Hero in India.
The key brands slugging it out in the executive space are Hero MotoCorp’s Super Splendor, Bajaj’s Discover and Honda’s relatively new CBF Stunner and CB Shine.
The CBF Stunner is priced at Rs 56,908 (ex-showroom Delhi) while the Shine is available at Rs 48,523 (ex-showroom, Delhi). The Discover 125, meanwhile, is competitively priced at R47,000 while the Super Splendor can be bought for R46,950 (ex-showroom Delhi). Honda has picked up speed in the executive segment after it started expanding its retail presence earlier this year, opening two dealerships every day. Honda currently has 715 dealers, up from about 513 in April this year though not as large a network as those of HeroMotocorp and Bajaj. “The rapid increase in reach has really helped Honda add volumes. Moreover, customers are no longer having to wait too long for delivery now that Honda’s Bangalore unit has started rolling out bikes,” said a consultant. Not wanting to lose out on the demand, Honda has started work on its fourth plant at Sanand in Gujarat.
Analysts feel that Bajaj, traditionally the leader in the premium space, needs to come up with newer models for the executive space. Bajaj’s motorcycle volumes have fallen 47% year-on-year between April and November to 196,549, while rival Hero’s sales surged 24% y-o-y with volumes of 533,021 units. At the end of FY09, Bajaj’s share in the domestic motorcycle space had dropped to 22% from a high of 32% at the end of FY07; since then its share has been hovering between 24% and 27%, but this has fallen to 21% at the end