Whenever we publish stories about the motorcycle industry in India, we still get comments from readers surprised at how big a role that nation’s market plays, and perhaps more poignantly, how small it makes the U.S. market look. The latest sales numbers from Hero MotoCorp, India’s market leader, should further highlight the importance of India’s motorcycle market.
According to Hero, Indian consumers bought 541,615 two-wheelers in December 2012. This includes scooters like the 109cc Maestro, the 149cc Impulse dual-sport pictured above and the 223cc Karizma ZMR faired sportbike. To put that into focus, consider the Motorcycle Industry Council reported Americans bought a mere 266,061 motorcycles total over the first half of 2012.
In other words, a single manufacturer in India sold more than twice as many motorcycles in a single month as the entire U.S. motorcycle industry over six months. And this wasn’t a single-month blip for Hero, as the company sold 540,276 units in the same month of 2011. December was actually expected to be a slow month, yet Hero stayed close to the pace set in the festive months of October and November which combined for sales of 1.1 million units (or 11 lakhs, the Indian word for 100,000). These three months accounted for 1.6 million units, or about three times as many motorcycles as U.S. consumers buy in an entire year. And Hero is just one manufacturer, albeit the market leader.
“December – being the last month of the calendar year – usually witnesses sluggish retails as customers tend to postpone their purchases to the new year,” says Anil Dua, senior vice-president of marketing and sales for Hero MotoCorp. “Despite that, we have been able to dispatch over five lakh two-wheelers during the month. We also have comprehensive marketing and customer engagement plans lined up for the remaining months of the fiscal to maintain this trajectory.”