Scooters are heading to a new direction as far as Indian market is concerned. Indian market is a mixed bag of fortunes for now as we wait for the market slowdown to ease due to extreme interest rates and fuel prices. When it comes to cars, manufacturers are really finding it hard to move their sales and are considering heavy discounts on their products in hopes of at least attracting consumers to peek into their showrooms, but in vain. Whatever happens in the car industry would directly affect the bike industry too with some of the superbikes not moving as demands overall have dropped down, though there are exceptions of some companies really doing well. Dip in sales hasn’t been like this in a long time with many blaming RBI’s aggressive approach to tame inflation to be one of the reasons behind the slump currently.
Bajaj scooters did very well in the scooter business. They stopped manufacturing scooters and changed courses and went ahead with manufacturing bike as their sole objective. Another scooter to make its mark was Kinetic Motors, which later was taken over by Mahindra who felt their huge Scorpio image was enough to uplift their upcoming scooter’s image, though it wasn’t very easy for them with their first introductions, but later Rodeo and Duro really did well. At the moment, Honda are doing very well with their Honda Activa, which Hero MotoCorp aim to challenge with their introduction of Hero Maestro soon. The market movement in scooter segment is a bit tricky to really make some sense as to what’s happening or would happen in the future, but at present, there’s hope for bike and scooter manufacturers or at least not as bad as carmakers.
Scooters are an effective mode of travel, especially there’s no hassles of gearshifts every now and then. With a powerful engine and good styling with attractive features would make customers re-think about going for a scooter instead of the tempting bikes that are coming to the market. For now, most people are happy with scooters as they can carry luggage, which isn’t easy in bikes. Advantage such as these, create a sense of urge among consumers to go for scooters.
Here’s a list of upcoming scooters entering the Indian market.
Yamaha is a brand very well known to Indians. They’re in almost all the segments in the market. They’ve placed a bike in every sector currently. Yamaha now plan to enter the scooter segment. They are preparing to set up a new assembly unit for scooter manufacturing at their plant in Uttar Pradesh. Yamaha have always carefully studied the Indian market before making a move. As always, they’ve followed their trend and come up with scooters adhering to Indian specifics with designs and engines being borrowed from other models they sell globally. ‘Personal mobility’ is the approach they’ve adopted this time while they promise to deliver the goods with a style-centred concept that matches the identity of their brand. Speculations are they’re coming up with 100cc or 125cc scooters while the design details are not exactly known, and they might come in sporty designs and step-throughs. Speculations are we might see the launch of these scooters at 2012 Delhi Auto Expo.
This is the third attempt made by Piaggio to enter the Indian market when they re-introduce the Vespa sometime next year. Parent company, Piaggio, has opened up a manufacturing facility with a capacity to produce 1,50,000 units yearly at Baramati. The company plans to launch the Vespa LX125 in the beginning of 2012. The Vespa LX125 is run by a 125 cc engine that generates a power of 10 PS and a torque of 8 Nm. It has continuous variable transmission (CVT). The Vespa LX125 has a style combination of older Vespas with new design lines giving an overall more classy appearance. The placement of the LX125 in the Indian market would be in the higher segment. The company have, however, assured competitive pricing due to parts being localised. Piaggio also has bigger plans to introduce their bikes if they decide to enter the bike market like the Derbi, Gilera etc and are hoping Vespa would be received well in the Indian market.
Honda, like Yamaha, in fact take all the Japanese manufacturers, do undertake a careful study before plunging in to emerging markets like India. Honda has realised the demand for more powerful scooters with their successful introduction of Honda Activa. With an increase in demand for powerful scooters (gearless), Honda now do plan to bring in sportier and bigger scooters to India, though there’s no confirmation yet as to when the scooter would be launched, but at the most we could expect to see them sometime in the next year. The new scooter would be running with an engine capacity of 125 cc and 150 cc. Pricing would be around Rs. 60,000. The scooter released would be in the premier class with sportier designs that we saw in the Kinetic Blaze some years ago. Looking at Honda’s approach in bringing in aggressive scooters to India, there’s a hunch they may bring the power scooter Honda PCX 125 in hopes of capturing the premium segment in the Indian market.
Hero Group’s split from Honda was imminent and finally saw them unveil their new logo and their new bikes to be released later this year. We saw about Hero Impulse and Hero Maestro in the Upcoming sections. Hero Maestro was unveiled by former Indian cricketer and medium pacer Irfan Pathan in a grand event held in London that was packed with celebrities. It is to be seen whether Hero MotoCorp is the new face or the scar face of its earlier association with Honda, yet Honda offering them material assists until a certain period of time. The Hero Maestro is run by a 110cc engine. It has variomatic transmission. The build quality is impressive and it has a digital console, tyres with tuff-up tubes and CBS (combined braking system). The downside to the scooter was the linked suspension system at the front. We still are not sure about the pricing of this scooter or the exact launch date, but expect its introduction sometime later this year. By the look of the Maestro, this scooter has all the strength and capacity to be challenging Honda Activa.
LML are out now in the geared scooter sector again. They earlier launched the four stroke scooter called Select. They are now all geared up to launch their new scooter called the Star 200 4T. The Star 200 4T would be run by a 200 cc, four stroke engine. Transmission is via 4-speed manual gear transmission. This scooter again would be placed in the premium segment and priced at Rs. 50,000 or above. LML, like others, are planning to launch the Star 200 4T later this year.