Buyers are driven more by aspirations than needs

Interview/ Minoru Kato, president & CEO, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India

62-Minoru-Kato Minoru Kato

Honda has been improving its market share in the premium segment. What is the medium-to-long term outlook for this category?

The premium segment above 250cc has noted a rise to more than 6 per cent of total motorcycle sales, compared with just 1.2 per cent just six years back. Lately, we have observed the rise in demand from not just metros but also from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, like Indore, Bhopal and Thiruvananthapuram. As an emerging trend, motor enthusiasts are now looking for a ride to complement their lifestyle. Driven by increasing personal disposable income and growing aspirations, the premium segment is opening up. Weekend rides, biking expeditions and riding groups are not only creating engagements around the brands but also creating communities.

This is happening when there is an overall sales decline in the auto sector. What do you think has changed?

The buyers of premium two-wheelers are driven more by aspirations and riding passion than needs. Higher disposable income, improved infrastructure and availability of desired models with proper aftersales backup are some of the
attributes fuelling this demand.

What are the main challenges for two-wheeler sales in India right now?

Overall, the auto industry is facing challenging volume growth. For the last six months, the industry remained stressed with continued slowdown and negative growth compared with last year. The first two months of the new financial year remained low on sentiments as well. The next challenge for the industry is the transition from BS IV to BS VI. The transition will lead to further slowdown due to impact on price points. Honda has already begun preparation for introduction of BS VI models.