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COVID-19 Locks Up Big Bike Business


Premium two-wheeler sales plummet by over 80 percent for few brands

big bike sales figures

Despite being around for many years and some even starting CKD operations in the country, premium two-wheeler manufacturers haven’t been able to achieve the sales numbers they hoped for. While the sub-Rs 4 lakh segment has been gaining momentum, big bike sales have been very poor in the world's largest two-wheeler market. New insurance policies and revised road tax structure in a few states also played a crucial role in hiking the on-road price of these motorcycles, thereby limiting sales.

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Another big dilemma for big bike brands was the introduction of BS6 emission norms as most of the bikes didn’t adhere to the new regulations that are based on Euro 5 standards. The European Union has offered manufacturers a one-year extension to meet Euro 5 norms, meaning they will come into effect in 2021. SInce the transition to stricter emission norms have increased the retail price, many global brands have decided to continue selling their Euro 4 models till 2021 and haven’t updated their portfolio. This has resulted in many premium two-wheeler motorcycles being discontinued in India and as result, dealers have very few models to sell.

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If that wasn’t bad enough, the COVID-19 pandemic and a long period of lockdown have led to many businesses taking a hit and the economy looking bleak. This has resulted in consumers focusing on their needs rather than luxury. The effects of this can be clearly seen in the sales data released by FADA (Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations) for July 2020. BMW managed to sell just 15 units, while Kawasaki and Triumph fared slightly better at 43 and 39 units respectively. Harley-Davidson is the only premium motorcycle that managed triple digit sales at 103 units, but that’s still a 50 percent drop in sales compared to last year.

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Brand

July 2020

July 2019

BMW Motorrad

15

176

Kawasaki

43

233

Triumph Motorcycles

39

88

Harley-Davidson 

103

199

The above sales figures don’t paint a clear picture as a few dealers were offering massive discounts to clear out their stock. Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson has had to shrink its product portfolio in India due to the drop in demand. Such is the situation for the iconic American brand that it had to offer a discount of Rs 65,000 on the recently launched BS6 Street 750. Kawasaki has managed to upgrade its 650cc family to meet BS6 norms, but there is no update on when the Kawasaki Ninja 300, its highest selling bike in India, will receive the updates required to meet the new emission norms. It’s superbike range is also empty as none of the bikes comply with BS6 regulations.

Italian exotic brand Ducati doesn’t have a single product in its portfolio that is BS6-compliant. Its first BS6 offering, the Panigale V2, will be launched this month, but apart from that the dealers won’t have any new bike to sell until late 2020 when the Scrambler and the Multistrada 950 are expected. With only few bikes to sell and the economy in a precarious situation, finding buyers for premium motorcycles will be a tough task.

Also read: Yamaha’s Future Motorcycle To Run On Water

It’s no surprise that dealers and brands have started venturing into sales of used motorcycles. With many owners trying to offload big bikes and sales of new bikes dwindling, the used motorcycle market looks like a segment that might grow exponentially. While this might provide intermittent relief to dealerships, their long-term future looks uncertain.

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However, with the economy seeing a revival and with more riders venturing out post the lockdown, we might see big bike sales pick up in the near future. Whether it happens or not is something only time will answer but we really hope it does and we get to see many fast and interesting motorcycles on Indian roads.

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