Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Japanese bike makers make new plans for India

To break into the league of the Hero Hondas and the Bajajs in the country, traditional Japanese rivals Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha have decided to adopt a common strategy of building new platforms for the Indian market.

The plan comes at a time when the combined market share of Hero Honda, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motors fell to 83 per cent in the two-wheeler market in the April-August period this year against 86 per cent in the same period last year.

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), Suzuki Motorcycle India (SMI) and Yamaha Motor India (YMI) are building motorcycles and scooters to suit the Indian market. The models will be manufactured at the company?s research and development centres in Japan and will use new platforms.

?We are focussing on the Indian consumers? demands for two-wheelers, their preferences and choices. Based on this, we will offer products that suit all these needs,? said Sanjay Tripathi, chief general manager, YMI.

Yamaha may introduce consumer-centric mass commuter products before 2008-end. This will be kickstarted by the launch of the premium superbikes, YZF R1 and MT01, in November this year. ?Our launch of superbikes will give the consumers a fair idea of what Yamaha has in store for India,? added Tripathi.

Suzuki Motorcycle India, which is planning to have a market share of 4 per cent by March 2010, is developing motorcycles and scooters for India at its mother plant in Japan.

?Our models will be completely based on market feedback, tastes and preferences, dislikes and affordability. This will entail cost for developing completely new models, which are not available anywhere else,? said, Satya Sheel, managing director, Suzuki Motorcycle India.

The recent launch of a scooter, Access, was the first example of the initiative. The company aims to have seven products in its portfolio by March 2010 with an intermittent product launch every 6-8 months.

Sheel said the cost of developing a new model, especially a motorcycle, could be in excess of Rs 200 crore.

HMSI will also expand its product offering size to eight models by 2010. It will develop models after carrying out market research studies in India. Honda will showcase a new scooter, a notch above Activa, at the AutoExpo next year, to be launched in India later. This model, using a completely new platform, was developed to suit the Indian market.

The company will launch a 100cc bike in 2009, preceded by a scooter and a premium bike in excess of 150cc next year. The company wants to fully utilise the installed capacity of 1.2 million units by 2010 compared with 9 lakh units currently.

Suzuki?s plans for the local market, however, will not be restricted only to the Indian shores. The company aims to make India a local hub for exports of Indian models to markets in South America and Africa. ?The focus of these companies will indeed be on India as its market for two-wheelers is expected to double in size by 2015 to 15 million units. Investments in making new models will not be problem for these giants?, said an analyst.

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