The Telegraph
Monday , February 10 , 2014
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Scooter buyers spoilt for choice

New Delhi, Feb. 9: Scooters are back with a bang at this year’s auto expo with as many as 15 new models on display.

Buoyed by strong sales last year, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, Hero MotoCorp, Yamaha, Suzuki and Piaggio all launched a slew of products and refreshes.

Scooter sales were up nearly 20 per cent in the nine months till December, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), outpacing the 2.5 per cent sales growth of motorcycles.

Analysts believe preference for the gearless scooter is one of the primary reasons for the comeback of the vehicle.

“Scooters that are coming into the market now are gearless which makes it extremely easy to ride. It’s the best vehicle for family-use as everyone starting from a college student, their parents and even grandparents can easily use scooters. Such adaptability of a vehicle is needed for a family. A motorcycle has a restricted number of users in a family,” said Roy Kurien, vice-president (sales and marketing) of Yamaha India.

Yamaha introduced the 115cc scooter Cygnus Alpha which will be up for sale later this month. The Japanese company entered the Indian scooter market in 2012 with the Cygnus Ray designed for women. This was followed by Cygnus Ray Z in 2013 for men. Both were developed for young riders and had sold about 180,000 units by the end of 2013.

Hero MotoCorp managing director and CEO Pawan Munjal said scooters now accounted for 25 per cent of the total two-wheeler market and the market share was expected to rise to 30 per cent this year.

“The scooter market is extremely important to us and with the new line-up we will gain a chunk of this market share,” he said.

Hero MotoCorp, the largest two-wheeler maker in India, displayed three new scooters at the auto expo. The company unveiled the 110cc scooter Hero Dash, the 125cc Hero Dare targeted at male customers, and the high end 157.1cc Zir, which will be marketed in the semi-premium scooter segment. Suzuki, too, came out with a 110cc scooter Let’s.

Demand for scooters also rose on the back of an increase in women riders. Companies do not have specific figures, but it is believed that at least 30 per cent of the buyers are women.

“We have seen a rise in the number of women riders in India. We believe at least 30 per cent of the riders are women. I believe it will be much higher in the near future. It’s not just designs that attract women riders, they now demand technologically advanced, sporty and fast scooters,” Piaggio Vehicles chairman and managing director Ravi Chopra said.

Encouraged by a good response to its Vespa brand, Piaggio is planning to bring in another model. “The Vespa S is the next model in the premium category. It will be launched in the next few weeks,” Chopra said.

The company is present in India through a wholly owned subsidiary Piaggio Vehicles. It launched the first Vespa model in 2012 in the country.

The company’s Indian arm — Piaggio Vehicles Private Ltd (India) — has a manufacturing unit at Baramati in Maharashtra.