'150-cc segment not hit by the economic slowdown'

Written by Malabika Sarkar | Malabika Sarkar | Updated: May 31 2009, 05:02am hrs
Despite the over automobile market slowdown, Yamaha Motor India has improved its showing in India after the launch of the YZF-R15 and FZ16 bikes in India. The company is expecting 100% growth sales in 2009. In this interview to FEs Malabika Sarkar, Sanjay Tripathi, division head, product planning and brand management, Yamaha Motors, talks about the companys plans for the domestic market.

How does the two-wheeler market in India differ from the markets in the US and Japan

The US or Japan have a very mature two-wheeler markets. The various segments are clearly defined on the basis of usage purpose. For example, super sports, touring, super motard, commuter, retro, custom, naked etc. Also the public transport system is well developed. Many people in these countries use two-wheelers for pleasure riding also.

But in India the two-wheeler market is still evolving. It is very price and mileage conscious. For most of the people buying a two-wheeler it is the only mode of transport. But there is no doubt it is a very dynamic market with a big potential as the penetration of two-wheelers is still low in India. We want to bring our internationalbrand heritage to India, bring the Yamaha lifestyle. This would include products, accessories and innovate marketing methods et al.

Yamaha sold 107 units of the R1 and the MTO1 in 2008, beating its own target. Do you see the market for high-end bikes picking up in India

We didnt anticipate such a good response for these bikes YZF-R1 and MT01 when they were launched in December 2007 in the Indian market. We have ended up selling more than what we estimated. We were the first to have launched the world-renowned super sports YZF-R1 and the torquesports MT 01 in the Indian market. Both bikes retail for Rs 10.5 lakh (ex-showroom, all-India). But this segment is niche. It has potential given the improving income levels and infrastructure, and international exposure. It will remain a small market for some years.

Do you think sales of high performance bikes are immune to the overall automobile market slowdown

The 150-cc segment has shown growth as this segment is not influenced much by the economic slowdown. Customers in this segment have enough economic power to buy the bike on cash.

Though your global market share in the two-wheeler category is around 25%, your market share in India comes to a minuscule 4%. What are your plans to increase it

Yamaha is planning to reinforce its international brand image in India and enhance the riding experience for Indian customers. We will make full use of the expertise and technologies gained from long years of product development. Our focus is to rebuild the Yamaha brand by winning the trust of the customers.

Do you think that the Nano is a threat to the two-wheeler market

It will not have much impact as the cost of ownership of the Nano will be much more than a motorcycle.