India's largest two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp's long time bestselling motorcycle Splendor reclaimed its pole position from Honda's Activa in 2019-20.
The overall market for two-wheelers shrunk by almost 18 per cent during the fiscal with both scooters and motorcycles suffering heavy declines. It did not spare the respective bestsellers either. The Activa, which has been the country's bestselling two-wheeler ever since it overtook Splendor in 2016-17, registered a steeper near 14 per cent decline in sales in 2019-20 at 25,91,059 units. The Splendor witnessed a 12.4 per cent decline at 26,32,800.
While the downturn in the automobile industry is likely to deepen this year in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, sales of entry level models may be more resilient as a section of consumers would opt for personal transportation. This will help prospects for both the Splendor and Activa this year.
"As the lockdown gets lifted in a phased manner, public transport is expected to be one of the last ones to be opened up. More than these restrictions, change in consumer behaviour towards owning his/her personal vehicle migrating away from public transport could likely generate some demand for entry level two-wheelers," says a note by Care Ratings.
"The largest share in the motorcycle segment is held by the entry and mid-level category of 75 cc - 200 cc accounting for over 93 per cent of the sales in the country. While in the scooters segment sales, around 99 per cent share is held by the 75 cc - 125 cc category. Entry and mid-level segment in two wheelers remain largely dependent on the rural demand that account for about 50 per cent share in overall volumes. While the farm distress led by kharif season exerted pressure on the farm incomes, various industry as well as government estimates suggest a record crop production for rabi season is expected to provide some relief and increase the disposable incomes in the hands of rural populace."
Splendor has been India's bestselling motorcycle for close to three decades now but over the last few years, Activa leveraged the strong latent demand for scooters in the country. Between 2007-08 and 2017-18, scooter sales in India grew at a scorching 20 per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR), which was more than three times the sub-6.6 per cent growth rate of motorcycles. In the process, their share in the overall two-wheeler market has grown from a low of 11.95 per cent in 2006-07 to nearly 32 per cent today.