Scooters account for 65% of our production

Written by Malabika Sarkar | Malabika Sarkar | Updated: Aug 23 2009, 02:26am hrs
Naresh Kumar rattan
Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI), the wholly-owned Indian subsidiary of Honda Motor Company, Japan, is credited with turning around the market for scooters in India, a segment that still hogs a bigger shareabout 65%of its total production. While its focus remains on scooters, it has gradually expanded its portfolio and is scouting for opportunities in the export market as well. In this interview with FEs Malabika Sarkar, the operating head, sales & marketing, general manager of HMSI, Naresh Kumar Rattan, talks about the growing demand of gearless scooters in the Indian market and what the company is doing to meet consumer expectations.

The market for scooters in India seems to be on the revival path. What are the factors that contributed to this trend

Scooters are easy to use, convenient and an obvious choice of most Indians. It was the leading segment among two-wheelers till the mid-nineties. Then the motorcycles took over, courtesy their style and high fuel-efficiency. This led to a period of decline for scooters. However, HMSI took the initiative and introduced Activa, which was instantly accepted by the masses and the market revived. Later, HMSI introduced Dio, Eterno and Aviator.

What is the size of the scooter market in India

The scooter market stands at 12 lakh units per annum and is growing at over 10% per annum over the last three years. In FY 2008-09, the scooter market grew at 11%, while the growth in FY 2007-08 was 12%.

Who is a typical gearless scooter customer for you

HMSIs automatic scooters are targeted at customers in all income-groups and across all ages. The Activa is targeted as a family vehicle. The Dio is mainly for youngsters while the Aviator is targeted at the premium image-conscious customer.

Any new products lined up for the gearless segment

In the current line-up, HMSI already has three modelsActiva, Dio and Aviator. At present, we feel this is enough. However, we continue to study the changing needs of customers.

What is the profile of competition that you are facing in this market

It is a worldwide trend that Honda creates the demand and competition follows. It is healthy to have the competition; many makers are introducing products in the automatic segment and this will lead to expansion of the market. Honda will take up the challenge to improve the products.

How much do scooters contribute to the revenue of HMSI

In the 8-year history of HMSI, only scooters were manufactured for the first four years. The first motorcycle was introduced in October 2004. So scooters currently occupy a bigger shareabout 65% of our production.

What is the volume of production of scooters in India

In FY 2008-09, the total production of scooters in India was 11.8 lakh and HMSI produced 6.6 lakh units, thus holding 55% of the market.