500-800cc bikes ride out auto sales slowdown with four-fold growth

Enfield’s 650 Twins — the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 (pictured) — have the lion’s share of the growth
While the entire two-wheeler segment, including the standard 350-500cc engine capacity motorcycles, reported a sales decline during the first nine months of 2019-20, one section is a huge exception.

This one, which has seen nearly fourfold growth, is of the  500-800cc segment, led by two products of Royal Enfield. 

According to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), the 500-800cc vehicle sales volumes (wholesale despatches, not retail) increased to 18,241 units between April 1 and December 31, 2019, from only 3,595 units in the same period a year ago. 

The segment has grown significantly over the past few quarters. Enfield’s 650 Twins — the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 — have the lion's share of that growth.

Siam data shows in the segment, categorised as above 500cc but less than or equal to 800cc, Enfield accounted for 87.3 per cent. It sold 15,920 units in those nine months, as against 954 units or 25 per cent of the segment share during the same period a year before.

This took place when overall two-wheeler sales dropped by 15.8 per cent in those months, to 13,914,974 units, from 16,526,785 a year ago. 

The second-biggest in the segment was H-D Motor Company India (Harley-Davidson India). It reported a marginal drop to 1,406 units, from 1,441 in the comparable period. Others are India Kawasaki Motors (468 units in 2019-20), Triumph (145) Suzuki (138), Honda (100) and Bajaj Auto (64). 

An Enfield spokesperson said the 650 Twins had been received extremely well in both Indian and international markets. In this country, Enfield has filled the void at the upper end of the mid-sized segment, where there are hardly any other motorcycles at this price point and displacement. The 650 Twins have helped the brand extend its leadership in the middleweight category, as well as to fuel the category growth itself, claims Enfield.  

In India, the 650 Twins have indeed expanded the premium mid-sized motorcycle segment. While half of the customers here were existing ones of Enfield, the others came into the brand's fold for the first time. Signifying a huge shift in category and also showing the opportunity in the market. 

Consumers in India riding 100-200cc motorcycles want to, observers agree, upgrade to a bigger and better motorcycle. Also, the base of 3.5 million-odd Enfield enthusiasts and owners find the 650 Twins a credible upgrade option. The Twins have also been very successful in bringing in new riders who had been waiting for a more premium offering from the company, said the spokesperson. 

The company also sold 15,867 units of the 650 Twins during April to December in the export markets, against 733 units in the year-ago period. The Interceptor 650 has in fact become the second highest selling motorcycle in Britain's mid-size segment.

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