The past month has been difficult for humankind affected severely by the coronavirus pandemic. The virus that is believed to have originated in China has now spread to the world, crippling the global economy, negatively affecting several industries including automobile companies. In these dark times, we’ve seen automotive giants extend their best hand forward to assist in the fight against COVID-19. But the fact remains that the industry which had only started looking at brighter days after an elongated sales slowdown in India is now staring at a further slump in business due to the lockdown in effect.
Life as we know it will change in the coming months as many of us make this sobering realization that the virus will not disappear from our lives any time soon. This will bring about changes in consumer preferences. A lot of studies and also our discussions with industry experts suggest that there will be a spike in personal mobility. People will want to avoid using ride-sharing services, taxis, buses, or local trains, and hence there is a boom expected in car and two-wheeler sales as life begins to resume normalcy.
How much does the premium bike segment stand to benefit from this likely boom? Or is it even. We spoke with Shoeb Farooq, GM, Triumph Motorcycles India, to learn more about the company’s current standing in the market and strategic imperatives for the post-COVID era.
What is the scale of impact of the lockdown on premium motorcycle sales?
The past 1-1.5 years had seen a downward trend in automobile sales in India when nearly all vehicle categories witnessed degrowth and the premium bike segment was no different. And now, 11-12 percent of the business has been lost to the coronavirus lockdown.
The business was expected to grow post-BS-VI transition and the lockdown has proven it otherwise. We also understand that sales will not jump back to normal numbers immediately after lockdown is lifted. The bigger question now is that long will it take to do so.
Is there a strategy in place to resume business to normalcy post-COVID-19?
Most of our production happens in Thailand which is not impacted as much as many other countries and we still have our production facility functional there. Triumph Motorcycles, in fact, is comparatively in a better place during these desperate times due to two main reasons.
We have two big product launches (including the recently launched 2020 Street Triple RS) during this period which should help us bring traction back to business once the market for these is open again. The second reason is that the BS-IV to BS-VI transition has been seamless for us and we do not have any BS-IV stock leftover. Triumph Motorcycles will have a strong presence in BS-VI motorcycles across segments by June 2020.
Triumph has a strong presence online as well, responding to customers making inquiries, booking test ride requests which are tentatively being blocked for mid of May. Digital has had a big impact on our business for long now and will also continue to post COVID.
Personal mobility is expected to transform post-COVID, do you expect a rise in two-wheeler sales?
There will be an inclination towards personal mobility in the times after coronavirus lockdown is lifted. But Triumph motorcycles are aspirational purchases or they are bought for touring, and post-COVID sales boom will most likely not affect premium bikes. However, Triumph Motorcycles has products that can be used for a daily commute and this segment might see a positive impact (for example, Triumph Street Twin, T100).
Since the Moto2 engine has already debuted in India, will we see the Daytona make a comeback in India anytime soon?
The Moto2 engine platform has brought several product opportunities for Triumph Motorcycles. However, the Daytona is not a part of the immediate product plan and for now, we’re focussing on the new Street Triple RS performance in the market. As a package, the Street offers more as a street bike that is also good for the track.
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