Honda surpasses Bajaj to become No. 2 bike-maker, moves closer to top-seed Hero | autos | Hindustan Times
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Honda surpasses Bajaj to become No. 2 bike-maker, moves closer to top-seed Hero

Honda’s flagship scooter Activa rose a massive 40% rise and for the first time crossed 3.5 lakh monthly sales in April.

autos Updated: May 04, 2017 12:21 IST
Press Trust of India, Mumbai
Honda Activa
Honda Motorcycle president and CEO Keita Muramatsu (L), at the launch of new model 'Livo' in New Delhi. The company expects to cross 5.5 million cumulative sales of Shine this month.(PTI file photo)

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) has upstaged Bajaj Auto to become the no. 2 bike-maker in April, which has also pushed it within a striking distance of overtaking market leader Hero as the largest two-wheeler maker.

“We’re happy that for the first time, we’ve become the No 2 motorcycle-maker, overtaking Bajaj Auto by a wide margin (over 21,330 units). This was possible after our overall sales jumped 34% in April. Our bikes volume rose 22% to 1,83,266 units from 1,50,711 a year ago,” YS Guleria, HMSI senior-VP for sales and marketing, told PTI on Wednesday.

As against this, Bajaj Auto saw its domestic sales plunge 19% to 1,61,930 units in April from 2,00,433 units. With this, the Japanese company leads the Pune-based Bajaj by a wide margin of 21,336 units, while it has narrowed the margin with Hero to just 12,377 units, making it within a striking distance from the numero-uno crown.

The Japanese major began fiscal 2018 on a high note with a 34% spike in sales taking its volumes to a record high of 5,78,929 units, making it the best-ever monthly sales for the company. While HeromotorCorp saw its sales decline by 3.5% to 5,91,306 units in the month.

The volume jump was led by a massive 40% rise in its flagship scooter Activa which crossed for the first time 3.5 lakh monthly sales at 3,68,618, which also is a record for the company.

When asked weather HMSI is hopeful of maintaining the lead over Bajaj going forward, Guleria parried a direct answer saying, “Our present capacity allows us to sell only 1.5-1.8 lakh bikes a month and I am confident of fully utilising that capacity.

“Having began fiscal 2018 year on a high, we’re looking forward to meet the target set for the year-- 20% volume growth at 6 million units over 5 million units in fiscal 2017”.

When asked if Honda will continue to narrow the gap with Hero and overtake it sooner than later to be the largest twowheeler company, Guleria again avoided a direct answer.

“We are limited by our capacity now which is at 5.8 million per annum while Hero has about 7.8 million installed capacity. I can say anything about such an eventuality only after we open our new assembly line (11th one) in Karnataka in July. From August-September we will be able to sell more.

“Currently my focus is on meeting the huge demand for scooters as the waiting period has shot up to over 30,000 units now. We can’t also add an another shift as all the 10 assembly lines are running at full capacity with two shifts for long now”.

Guleria said the bike volumes were driven by the 125cc Shine, which contributes close to 55% of the volume. The over a decade-old Shine with its two variants has been its warhorse for long now.

He also said the company is hopeful of crossing the 5.5 million cumulative sales of the Shine this month.

The record April sales has pushed up the HMSI’s market share to over 33%, up 2.5 percentage points from the March pie. Its exports soared close to 60% in the month to 27,045 units.