Motorcycle sales defy slowdown

Mumbai: The global slowdown might have affected most industrial sectors, but not motorcycle sales. All the three major motorcycle manufacturers in India - Hero Honda, Baja Auto and TVS Suzuki - have reported a robust growth in sales.

The three companies account for almost 90 per cent of the domestic motorcycle market, comprising seven manufacturers. While Hero Honda continues to lead the pack, the other two are fast catching up - gaining in the market share at the expense of the Honda.

Reflecting the trend, the share prices of all the three manufacturers have been on the rise in the past few trading sessions. Thus the Hero Honda scrip touched a new yearly high on 2 November, when it closed at Rs 244.25 (Rs 2 paid up) after touching an intra-day high of Rs 246.95. (Hero Honda had been split into Rs 2 per share in the early part of the year, when it decided against giving bonus shares).

Similarly, the Bajaj Auto scrip too touched its yearly high of Rs 350 on the same day, established in earlier trading sessions, before trotting back slightly to close at Rs 340.40. Bajaj Auto, early this year, took a massive beating in terms of sales and profits, as its mainstay product - scooters - failed to attract buyers and consumers, who opted for motorcycles instead. Realising their mistake rather late, Bajaj Auto took to manufacturing and selling motorcycles; the decision has since then paid rich dividends.

TVS Suzuki's shares too have moved well to trade at Rs 125 or thereabouts on the same day, way above their yearly low of Rs 65.

Hero Honda posted a 43-per cent rise in sales in October 2001, in comparison to the corresponding period last year at 1.32 lakh units. Bajaj Auto posted a 103-per cent increase in the same month by selling 68.179 units. TVS Suzuki reported a growth of 42.50 per cent in sales, placed at 43,865 units.

 According to Bajaj Auto, its market share has increased to 24 per cent in October 2001, in comparison to the 19.70 per cent in October 2000. The gain, according to the company, has come at the expense of Hero Honda, whose share has seemingly fallen to 46.2 per cent in October 2001, in comparison to the 52.80 per cent in October 2000.