Honda unseats Bajaj as No-2 bikes-maker, aims to replace Hero at topJapanese auto major Honda has unseated Bajaj Auto to become second largest bikes-maker in April.
Japanese auto major Honda has unseated Bajaj Auto to become second largest bikes-maker in April, and has also moved within striking distance to overtake Hero as the country's largest twowheeler company.
"Driven by a 34 per cent rise in overall volumes, we have become the No 2 motorcycle-maker in the country in April, unseating the incumbent by a wide margin (over 21,330 units). We sold 1,83,266 bikes in the month, up 22 per cent from 1,50,711 units we had sold a year ago," Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India senior vice-president, sales & marketing, YS Guleria told PTI today.
As against this, Bajaj Auto saw its domestic sales plunge 19 per cent to 1,61,930 units in April. With this, the Japanese twowheeler major leads the Pune-headquartered company by a wide margin of 21,336 units, while it has narrowed the gap it has with the market leader HeromotorCorp to just 12,377 units, making it within a striking distance from the numero uno crown.
The Japanese company began fiscal 2018 on a high note with a 34 per cent spike in sales taking its volumes to a record high of 5,78,929 units, its best-ever monthly sales. As against this HeromotorCorp saw its sales decline by 3.5 per cent to 5,91,306 units in the month.
Even last in fiscal 2017, HMSI lead the market growth selling more than 5 million units, and has closed the year with double-digits growth while the industry managed to remain in the green. HMSI contributed around half the incremental volume in the year.
The April volume jump was led by a massive 40 per cent rise in its flagship scooter Activa which crossed for the first time 3.5 lakh monthly sales at 3,68,618.
When asked weather HMSI is hopeful of maintaining the lead in the bikes category going forward, Guleria said, "our present capacity allows us to sell only 1.5-1.8 lakh bikes a month and we are confident of fully utilising that capacity.
"Having began fiscal 2018 year on a high, we are looking forward to meet the target set for the year -- 20 per cent volume growth at 6 million units over 5 million units in fiscal 2017".
Asked if Honda will continue to narrow the gap with the market leader in overall volumes and overtake it sooner than later to be the largest twowheeler company in the country, Guleria said, "we are limited by our capacity now which is at 5.8 million. We could speak about higher volumes only after we open our new assembly line (11th one) in July in Karnataka."
"HMSI will be adding 0.6 million units at its Karnataka plant by July, investing over Rs 1,000 crores. With this the Karnataka facility will be largest for the company with 2.4 million units annual capacity. Honda already runs the world's largest scooters only plant (1.2 million units) at Vithalapur in Gujarat which was commissioned in February and June 2016.
"Currently our focus is on meeting the huge demand for scooters as the waiting period has shot up to over 30,000 units now. We can't also add an another shift as all the 10 assembly lines are running at full capacity with two shifts for long now," Guleria said.
It can be noted that Hero has much larger installed capacity with around 7.8 million units per annum. Even after HMSI opens its 11th assembly line in July, its gap with Hero will still be 1.4 million a year.
Guleria said the bike volumes were driven by the 125- cc Shine, which contributed close to 55 per cent of the April bikes volume. The over a decade-old Shine with its two variants has been its warhorse for long now.
He also said the company is hopeful of crossing the 5.5-million cumulative sales of the Shine this month.
The record April sales has pushed up the HMSI's market share to over 33 per cent, up 2.5 percentage points from the March pie. Its exports soared nearly 60 per cent in the month to 27,045 units.