Suzuki launched its first mass-market cruiser motorcycle Intruder 150 in India on 7 November at a price tag of Rs 98,340 (ex-showroom). With this launch, Suzuki India has had a change in strategy and says that the focus will now only be on motorcycles with engines above 150cc. Previously, the brand concentrated on penetrating the commuter segment in India, however, the numbers suggest Suzuki did not fare very well in the segment, with only one commuter motorcycle on sale currently. Hayate sells in small numbers in India and is also exported. Now though, the Japanese brand has confirmed that the model will be discontinued before its product lineup moves on to BS-VI emissions standards by 2020. Besides a bad performance from the brand's commuter motorcycles, another point of relevance is that Suzuki has had its name associated with higher displacement motorcycles, owing to motorcycles such as the Hayabusa. Hence, bringing design cues from motorcycles like the Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Intruder M1800 into the 150cc segment is proving positive for the company. An example of this theory is the Gixxer series of motorcycles, which is selling in respectable numbers.
The radical decision to pull out of the commuter segment also has a lot to do with the fact that there has been a dip in sale of motorcycles below 150cc in India. For motorcycles with engines from 110-125cc, most brands registered a drop in sales, with an exception of Honda, Bajaj and a slight gain for Yamaha, in the period from April-September 2017 compared to last year.
For motorcycles with engines above 125cc and below 150cc, most brands except Honda witnessed a fall in sales in the same period. Whereas, if one looks at the data for sale of motorcycles above 150cc and below 200cc, there has been a considerable hike for Suzuki, Bajaj, Honda and TVS. Hence, a trend inclining towards motorcycles with larger displacement can be noticed.
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The scooter segment, however, is getting stronger and Suzuki too registered decent numbers in the segment especially with the Access 125 gaining popularity and registering healthy sales numbers, and hence the brand will continue to invest in the scooter segment. According to SIAM data, Suzuki recorded sale of 1,25,318 scooters in April-September 2016, which rose to 2,02,771 units in the same period this year.
Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd (SMIPL), the wholly-owned two-wheeler arm of Suzuki Motor Corp, is tepping up its game in the country with a recent announcement of a Rs 500 crore investment to set up a new manufacturing plant. "Our target is to sell one million units by 2020. Up to one million we can use the existing plant (at Gurugram) but beyond that we have to consider a new plant. We expect to take a decision on it by next year," SMIPL Managing Director Satoshi Uchida said.
Suzuki has now become the second brand to announce pulling the plug on its commuter segment motorcycles. Mahindra & Mahindra announced in September this year that it would stop production of mass-market two-wheelers in India nine years after Mahindra Two Wheelers acquired business assets from Kinetic Motor Company Limited. According to SIAM data, Mahindra's two-wheeler sales were down 77% during the period of April-July 2017 compared to the same period last year.