Shortage in Gearless Scooters
Two-wheeler sales may be in trouble, but manufacturers of automatic scooters (TVS Scooty, Kinetic Flyte, Suzuki Access 125cc) are facing the spectre of a waiting list that could vary from a week to a month.
The reason: manufacturers under-estimated the market and produced much lower volumes. Automatic scooters are essentially gearless scooters, which are much easier to manoeuvre and can also provide more power.
“The bad patch that we went through from 2007, where sales of two-wheelers were dented due to rising interest rates and a lack of finance, forced us to take a cautious view in not expanding our prodution lines. There was excess capacity then and we sold less. We did not anticipate this surging demand,” said Atul Gupta, vice-president (sales and marketing), Suzuki Motorcycle India.
Though motorcycles continue to outsell automatic scooters by 5.5 times, the data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) reveal that the motorbike segment as a whole posted a negative growth of 12 per cent for the last financial year, while sales of automatic scooters actually rose by the same amount, selling more than a million units.
Automatic scooter makers are currently operating at full capacity and hope to expand the production capacity rapidly in the second half of this year. “As the festival period approaches, the waiting period for ungeard scooters may extend as more families prepare to buy their vehicles.
At present, we are utlising almost 100 per cent of our production capacity,” said N K Rattan, divisional head (sales and marketing), Honda Motorcycles & Scooters (HMSI).