Ever since Hero and Honda parted ways, the dynamics of the two-wheeler market has changed.
Although, post split, Hero still holds over 50% marketshare, Honda's solo run with strong research and development (R&D) muscle and Bajaj's renewed vigour make the battle much more intense in the coming days. As to Rajiv Bajaj, managing director at Bajaj Auto, India's second-largest two wheeler maker, it will be "highly competitive".
The one company that appears to be the most aggressive is Honda's own subsidiary Honda Motorcycle and Scooters India (HMSI). Having already announced its intentions to be the number 1 by 2020, it is on an expansion spree.
"We want to be the market leader," said NK Rattan, operating head, sales, planning and marketing, HMSI. "By 2020, we aim for a 30% marketshare selling 10 million units annually. Right now we have a marketshare of 14-15%. It will take a lot of effort but we are ready."
Some such as Suzuki and Yamaha are, however, scared to join the battle for the top.
"We are a baby as of now," said said Atul Gupta, vice-president, sales and marketing, Suzuki Motorcycle. "I think we need to cross many hurdles before we even think of that level. In the next two years, we should be focussing to get at least 4-5% marketshare."
For Yamaha, the target is one million sales by 2013. In 2011, India Yamaha Motor crossed 500,000. The company will foray into the scooter segment this year with three models.
Hero MotoCorp is not oblivious to the intensifying competition all around. Like its concept hybrid scooter in the Auto Expo indicates, they are ready to defend their fort.
"Of course when you are number 1, you are often the target," said Pawan Munjal, managing director, Hero MotoCorp. "But we are geared up to defend our position. Its been one year since we went our way and we are still number one in the world. Maintaining it will be a challenge but we will try to do our best."