The Indian two-wheeler industry is experiencing a major shift in its shape and structure. The established players in the industry are taking a hard look at their portfolio of products and are in the process of reshuffling them to meet the expectations of customers. The beneficiary is of course the consumer, who has an increased array of products to choose from.
The last four-five years have brought about a great change in the consumer preferences for two-wheelers. The market leaders of yesteryears are being driven to maintain their leadership position in the forthcoming years. Those who have had a great going in the last few years are fighting hard to retain their new supremacy. The two-wheeler industry is perhaps the most happening place in terms of new models launched, upgraded products and innovative marketing techniques. Gone are the days of regulation when the production of scooters and motorcycles was limited to two or three brands and the number of products produced was decided by the Government; today the Indian two-wheeler market is highly competitive with numerous players who offer anything and everything a consumer demands and that too at affordable price. From a sellers market where one had to wait for a scooter for 12 years to the days when you can just walk into any showroom and drive out in the vehicle of your choice, the market of two-wheelers in India has come a long way. But this is only the beginning of the transformation.
The Indian two-wheeler industry is dominated by three players, Bajaj, Hero Honda and TVS Suzuki, who account for 80 percent of the total two-wheeler market. The other players including Kinetic Engineering, LML and others account for the remaining 20 percent of the market. The industry can be divided into three broad segments: Scooters, motorcycles and mopeds. In the scooters segment Bajaj is the market leader, Hero Honda is the market leader in the motorcycles segment and in the segment of mopeds, TVS controls the major chunk of the market.
Most Indian players in the two-wheeler industry had been into some kind of strategic alliance, technical collaboration or joint venture with foreign players, mainly Japanese firms. Hero-Honda, is a joint venture between the Munjal-promoted Hero Group and Honda Motor Co. of Japan; TVS-Suzuki was an alliance with TVS and Suzuki Motors (till September 2001); Bajaj-Kawasaki a joint venture between Bajaj Motors and Kawasaki; and Yamaha-Escorts, a joint venture between Escorts and Yamaha Motor Corp. (till June 2001).
The story of motorcycles in India is a good case study of how fortunes change overnight. Motorcycles in India were hardly popular and Hero Honda was the only player, which had carved a niche for motorcycles. Its market was small and limited while scooters ruled the roost but today, it is one of the biggest success stories. Its established presence in the motorcycle segment had stood it in good stead in this phase of boom in motorcycle sales. The fact that no other player commanded the brand name which Hero Honda enjoyed in motorcycle segment also added up to its success. In addition most other players such as Bajaj, TVS, LML etc., took time to assimilate the change in customer preferences and come up with models to buck the trend. Meanwhile Hero-Honda's designs were ready on the platter. Its R&D had been able to come up with models such as CBZ, Passion etc., in the premium segment to capture the hot demand. Riding high on the expectations of consumers, Hero Honda has successfully crossed over the one million units mark in motorcycle sales. Its popular model Splendor is the largest selling motorcycle in the world. To give a boost to its youthful image the company has chosen Saurav Ganguly and Hrithik Roshan as brand ambassadors. The company has also embarked on in-film advertising in a forthcoming Hindi movie. In order...