Suzuki rides full steam on Hayate

Written by Ronojoy Banerjee | Ronojoy Banerjee | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 10 2012, 09:08am hrs
More than a decade after parting ways with TVS Motors, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the world's leading two-wheeler brand Suzuki Motorcycles is set to start a new chapter in the country's volumnious two-wheeler market.

Over the next 18-24 months, Suzuki Motorcycle India expects the share of its motorcycle segment to account up to 50% of its total two-wheeler sales from the current 20% on the back of its newly launched 110cc motorcycle Hayate. Following this launch, the company has entered in direct competition with Hero MotoCorp's bread and butter Splendour and Passion, and Honda Motorcycles and Scooter India's CB Twister.

"We started revising our plans (in India) after 2007. We realised that if you have to be a success in India, you have to go the Indian way. And that's the theme for the Auto Expo as well, vice-president (sales and marketing) Atul Gupta told FE.

He said when Suzuki first entered the Indian market, the consumer expected niche products of high-end bikes. Partly consumer correction took place by default. Also, in the last 2-3 years, with the success of our domestic scooters people understood that they were taking a different route," he said.

With the launch of the Hayate, the company has now presence from the 110 cc category to 150 cc, in both scooters and motorcycles. Simultaneously, the company also offers through a completely built unit (CBU) mode from an 800 cc bike to a 1700 cc bike.

"The high-end bikes are not for volumes. That is mainly to cater to that consumer segment, which expects us to produce high-end bikes. There is technology available for us. A company cannot sustain merely on the high-end bikes. Hence, we have entered the mass market where 50% of the market still remains," Gupta said.

Gupta also hinted that the company would also look at bridging the 150 cc to 800 cc gap in its product range.

"Eventually, we would be there in every segment because we want to be a major player. That cannot be done in one-year," he said. Through its new 110 cc bike launch, the company aims to enjoy a market share of at least 5% over the next 24 months. The bike is expected to be priced between R40,000 and R42,000, he added.

Managing director of consultancy firm Protivi Consulting, Adithya Bhat, said: For a foreign player to understand the Indian market, they have to tie up with a local partner. Which Suzuki had done with TVS. Now, they can weave a strategy of their own and introduce competitively priced models. This would help Suzuki since it already has a very powerful brand name," he said.