Two-wheeler major Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) accounted for almost half of the incremental rise in two-wheeler sales in the country in the month of May, riding on a 19 per cent jump in its volumes.
The company also yanked up its domestic market share by 2 percentage points to 27.5 per cent.
Total sales of the six largest two-wheeler makers — Hero, Honda, Bajaj, TVS, Royal Enfield and Yamaha — rose by 1,47,411 units to 17,22,265 units in May, of which HMSI alone accounted for 69,191 units, or 47 per cent of the total incremental volume.
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“We have made a very strong start in the new financial year, and we have carried the momentum forward in May as well as Honda was the highest volume gainer in the industry, with a contribution of 47 per cent to the incremental total volume,” HMSI Senior VP for Sales and Marketing Y S Guleria told PTI.
Guleria went on to say that the growth was driven mainly by the new models such as Livo, CB Shine SP and CB Hornet 160R.
He added that demand is being driven by urban and semi-urban markets and with the IMD predicting a good monsoon, the company expects positive sentiment in rural areas as well.
In the scooters segment, Guleria said, the automatic models lead the industry growth and Honda’s flagship model Activa continues to be the largest selling two-wheeler in January-April period this year.
“We are operating at full capacity in all our four plants. However, to further meet the 30,000 back orders for scooters, we are working towards making our second line at the Gujarat plant operational soon,” he added.
Honda commissioned the 6-lakh units first line in Gujarat ahead of schedule in February. The second line with a similar capacity will be onstream this month or early July, Gulerai said.
The Japanese two-wheeler major, the second largest player here, sold 4,36,358 units in May, up from 3,67,167 units a year ago, a growth of 19 per cent (including both domestic sales and exports). Out of this, scooter sales rose to 2,68,423 units from 2,15,241 units a year ago, and bikes volume rose to 1,47,479 units from 1,38,140 units.
Its exports crossed the 20,000-units mark the second time at 20,456 units, up by over 48 per cent
Honda hopes to cross 5.4 million sales mark for the first time this year from 4.8 million last year.
“For the first time, we’ll be able to cross 5 million sales mark this year,” Guleria said, adding the 1.2 million scooters-only Gujarat plant will help in reaching the target.
Honda’s domestic volume grew 18 per cent in the month, which is the highest in the eight months since the last festive season, he said.
Against this, industry leader Hero MotoCorp saw its volume inch up a paltry 2.3 per cent to 5,83,117 units in the month, while the third-placed Bajaj Auto saw its volume rising by 3.4 per cent to 347,655 units.
TVS Motor saw a volume growth of 10.8 per cent to 2,43,783 units, while Yamaha reported a 36 per cent jump in sales to 62,748 units.
In a research note, LKP Capital said the performance of the auto industry in April was very robust albeit on a low base. In May, this momentum slowed down a bit on seasonal factors — April being the month where marriage season was at its peak in Northern and Western regions, and inventory build-up was heavy to cater to the retail demand.
Honda got off to a stellar start this fiscal with April sales zooming 26.51 per cent to 4,31,011 units, while Hero MotoCorp, after a full year of falling sales in 2015-16, witnessed a 15 per cent spurt.
Bajaj saw volume falling 2 per cent to 3,30,109 units. For the full fiscal 2015-16, as per SIAM data, while two-wheeler sales inched up 2.7 per cent to 1,89,37,104 units (domestic sales and exports), Honda sales rose to 44,83,835 units from 44,39,983 units, out of which domestic sales stood at 42,53,471 units, up from 42,83,690 units in FY14.
“FY17 is going to be our most definitive year here. Our priorities will be strengthening our connect with the youth, make all our models BS-IV compliant at the earliest while continue to aggressively make inroads into rural markets, which now contributes around 35 per cent of total sales,” Guleria said.
The Rs 1,100-crore factory at Vithalapur near Ahmedabad is a scooters-only plant. Since its entry, Honda has invested over Rs 7,800 crore in the country. It employs around 20,000 people, including 3,000 people at the Gujarat plant. (Honda began independent operations after split with Hero in 2011 with a 1.65 million units plant at Manesar in Haryana).
The two-wheeler market is on course to touch the 20 million mark by 2020 from 16 million in 2014-15, but the industry is worried about the new emission and safety norms.