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Return of the scooter

Honda Eterno, a modern scooter that packs in quite a punch at 8.3bhp, can do wheelies with ease and then returns around 80kpl

india Updated: Oct 08, 2003 12:59 IST

The last three years have seen an unprecedented growth in motorcycle sales, but at the same time the scooter segment has witnessed a dramatic decline. This is in sharp contrast to the scene five years back when the scooter sales were healthy and motorcycles. So what happened during the last five years that turned the tables? While a short, concrete answer may not be possible; various changes in the Indian two-wheeler market dynamics have contributed to the rise in popularity of motorcycles and the corresponding fall in sales of scooters.
The most important factor has been the fall in prices of motorcycles. Thanks to aggressive cost cutting by manufacturers, motorcycles now come with very aggressive pricing. In fact, there are some bikes that are around the Rs 30,000 mark, making them cheaper than scooters.

Performance has been another important attribute what with motorcycles delivering better power, speed and mileage than scooters. In terms of stability too, motorcycles have an edge over scooters. Some even argue that a bike has better longevity than a scooter. Another factor that has helped bikes cruise ahead of scooters is the styling and image associated with scoots. While a scooter is often equated with a family man-kind-of-image, a motorcyclist is considered to be much more adventurous and, to some extent, more macho. So, it was no surprise that while the last three years have seen more than two-dozen new bike models being launched, the scooter market has seen few introductions. In fact, major scooter players like Bajaj, LML and Kinetic have been focusing more on their motorcycle range.

But all this may be about to change with the recent crop of scooters that has hit the market and some more that are on their way. The new crop packs in performance, styling and even power in a package that still retains its old plus points of convenience, load lugging space and the ease for pillion riding females wearing traditional clothes. For example the Honda Eterno, a modern scooter that packs in quite a punch at 8.3bhp, can do wheelies with ease and then returns around 80kpl.

If the Eterno’s styling appears too bland for you then there is the Kinetic Nova and the Honda Dio to choose from, both featuring modern, contemporary styling.
Analysts are optimistic that scooter sales, especially in the central engined, automatic transmission category may soon see an upswing. Bajaj is developing seven new models to be launched during the next two years. Future entrant Suzuki is also readying a scooter model. LML has put the Vespa ET-4 derived Skipper on hold for now but may be ready to launch it once there is any upturn in the market. Kinetic, meanwhile, is counting on its already comprehensive range to counter the new onslaught. It would be an interesting scenario once scooter performance and styling levels in India match that of European products. Maybe then scooter sales will get a new lease of life.

First Published: Oct 08, 2003 11:59 IST