New Delhi: India has overtaken China to emerge as the world’s biggest market for two-wheelers. A total of 17.7 million two-wheelers were sold here last year, that’s over 48,000 units every day.
Neighbouring China trailed with 16.8 million units sold, according to officials from Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) as well as data from China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Besides rising incomes and growing infrastructure in rural areas, one big reason for the spurt in sales has been women commuters who like the ease of zipping in and out of chaotic city traffic on their gearless scooters. For Honda, which leads the scooter market, the share of women is at 35%.
The market in China has been on a decline over the past few years, perhaps due to the fast-paced growth in car sales there as well as the curbs on petrol two-wheelers in top cities. “The Chinese market has been coming down from the highs of 25 million or so, reached a few years back,” says Sugato Sen, Deputy DG of Siam. However, the sales of electric two-wheelers have been on an upswing in China.
Indonesia is holding steady as the third-largest two-wheeler market with annual sales estimated at 6 million units. Here too, volumes have slipped from 6.5 million units sold in 2015.
So, what clicks for India when it comes to the two-wheeler market? “The need for mobility is very large in India, and we are one of the fastest developing economies in the world,” says YS Guleria, Senior VP (Sales & Marketing) at Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), the country’s second-biggest two-wheeler company.
Easier finance options, newer and more fuel-efficient models, rising incomes have only added to the push even as new business models, such as e-commerce, also help purchases.
A top official at Hero MotoCorp, the country’s biggest company, said that the growth of infrastructure in smaller towns and non-urban areas is helping demand.
“The massive government spending in rural programmes and large road-construction projects is leading to a pick-up in volumes in smaller towns and villages,” said the official, who did not wish to be identified.
In metros and the larger cities, the sales are also being aided by the choked infrastructure. “People are buying two-wheelers for shorter commute and errands, even if they have a car. It is difficult to move around in congested cities, and even more difficult to get a space to park. So, two-wheelers are increasingly becoming the second vehicles in the household,” the official from Hero says.
Industry officials say that the market will continue to grow over the next few years. “We will grow at around 9-11% over the coming years,” Honda’s Guleria says.