The 110-cc Cliq (priced aggressively at around Rs 42,000) is believed to have sold over 12,000 models so far and the company has given it block pattern tyres with deep grooves to provide extra grip and better control over patchy roads, making it suitable for rural commuting needs.
Senior Vice-President (sales and marketing) Y S Guleria
explained, "The scooter
addresses the mobility requirement for both the male and female within a household. With more women joining the workforce in the semi-urban and rural areas (teaching, nursing, etc), the need for mobility has gone up too. Many of these families cannot afford two vehicles for commute and the scooter, thus, emerges as a preferred choice."
Earlier, the price difference between an automatic scooter
(Rs 48,000 and above) and a 100-110 cc bike (Rs 44,000 and above) was deterring this potential customer, Guleria added. HMSI
spotted the need-gap and decided to launch the Cliq at Rs 42,300 in Rajasthan, where the company makes the scooter
too, to address this need. The scooter
costs around Rs 44,000 in Gujarat. "The Cliq is based on the popular Activa platform and we have economies of scale, hence we could be cost competitive. Now, coming in the same price bracket, the Cliq is at least a vehicle of consideration for the potential buyer," he reasoned.
Yamaha Motor India
Senior Vice-President (sales and marketing) Roy Kurian
seemed to agree. "The reason behind someone considering a scooter
is usually always a female. With more women joining the workforce in Tier-III towns and rural areas, the scooter
is poised for growth," he said.
Kurian further felt that the inflection point is likely to come after 2020 when the BS-VI emission norms would set in and would disrupt the 100-110 cc bikes market dynamics. "The scooter
will stand to gain from this, it will be a more price competitive and more convenient (gearless) option. The 100 cc scooters
will gain the most as they offer better mileage," he added.
Analysts feel that following HMSI's example, more scooter
models targeted at the rural customer are likely to come in the coming years. "As the volumes go up, the pricing would get more competitive. As road network improves, the scooters
stand in good stead," felt Subrata Ray, senior group vice-president of ICRA.
In its latest analysis of the two-wheeler market, ICRA
has said that an increasing road network augurs well for the demand for personalised transportation in the absence of adequate public facilities. The rural road network comprised 61 per cent of the total road network in the country (in 2015) and, according to recent estimates, major district roads and rural road network stand at 4.91 million km as of FY17.
As such, scooters
now make up a major share of sales for major two-wheeler players — 38 per cent for TVS Motor
India and 84 per cent for Suzuki Motorcycle India.
Both these companies have also seen a great spurt in scooter
sales volumes this financial year — 56.5 per cent for Suzuki and 35 per cent for TVS.