Indian bikers' preference of the comfort of a two wheeler cruiser and power of a sports combined is driving the growth of sports cruiser bikes.
Brands like Royal Enfield and Harley-Davidson have traditionally been the icons of cruiser bikes in India. However, off late there has been a significant shift in customer preference towards using the power of a sports bike in terms of rapid acceleration or speed plus the comfort of a cruiser comprising of low slung seats, high handle bars coupled with the latest technologies, in a single package now offered as sports cruiser bikes by global players. The number of such companies which have established manufacturing facilities in the country is on the rise and many more are expected to join the race because they recognised the immense potential of two wheeler sports cruisers in and around India. Interestingly, sports cruisers in the mid power segment of 250-500cc will take the lions' share of this market, while super bikes will continue in the niche premium segment. Typical cruiser engines emphasize easy ride ability and shifting, with plenty of low-end torque but not necessarily large amounts of horsepower, traditionally V-twins but in-line engines have become more common. Cruisers with greater performance than usual, including more horsepower, stronger brakes and better suspension, are often called power cruisers.
The estimated industry size of two wheelers in India is around 20 million units comprising of all categories put together. The segmentation is quite fragmented depending upon the regional and customer demographics.
In terms of total business it is in small percentage, from a future perspective the opportunities available in the country. Pankaj Dubey, MD and Country Manager, Polaris India, and CEO & Director-Eicher Polaris Pvt Ltd says, “We do not have separate JV for motorcycle. We are Polaris India Pvt Ltd which is 100 per cent subsidiary of this industry. As far as the JV is concerned Eicher, it is for personal utilities.”
Dubey shared, “The potential is very high as we started Polaris India, we were the first brand to start the Clean India. Though Polaris has gained lots in India, we have very small and niche reach. The more players coming into competition this should become big, as far as India is concerned, there are more and more competitions here. We have established, our brand is premium brand, and people are happy with it. So for Polaris India we are very optimistic about the future.”
Mishra further added, “If you look at 100-150 cc; 150 -200cc; 250-500cc and 500 cc and above significant shifts are trending towards bigger two wheelers and fueled further by new entrants in the premium segment and more are expected in the next two years. In the high end bikes 250-500 cc will be the fastest growing segment with a CAGR close to 30 per cent while super bikes will remain as it is.”
Therefore, the main contribution to growth of this industry will be by the mid segment so to say. “These will be the most affordable bikes at a price point below Rs. 3 lakhs. The overall industry will grow around 10-12 per cent which will correspond to 1-1.3 Million bikes a month or 16 Million bikes annually by next year,” Mishra said.
Sports cruisers gaining traction
Traditionally a two wheeler has been used in the form of commuter transportation wherein low life cycle costs and fuel economy were the primary criteria of selection. However, in light of the developing economy personal aspirations and status images have been included in the wish list for buying a two wheeler. This phenomena has spread into the farthest and far flung regions of India. Hence, a great opportunity for sports cruiser manufacturers. Further, the owner economics trends to buying the mid segment sports cruisers which are available at affordable price.
Dubey shares, “As far as the motorbikes are concerned and the brands that we have are Chieftain which starts at cheap rate and Roadmaster which is costly. Then in mid size we have Scout Sixty which is very high that should give the maximum business and revenues in the coming years. Almost about 65-70 per cent of the business comes from Scout Sixty.”
Speaking about the sports cruisers gaining traction Mishara adds, “The growth rate is 25-30 per cent. So there is 55 per cent year on year growth. That is the segment grown every year. The Cruiser Bikes. The Ninja. In India Cruiser bikes are another name of Harley Davidson. None of the company's are making Cruiser in the mid segment.Many of the companies are making bikes in Cruiser segment. If you call Royal Enfield they will check in the sports rates. This segment is growing. As we are the only company to make Cruiser bikes. There are 12 manufacturers in India and they all making Sports bikes. From 100 cc to 1000 cc all are making such bikes like Hero, Bajaj, KTM, TVS and many more. So name a brand and they have a sports bike. We are in the mid segment. Only Royal Enfield is in to that segment. And also we can't be an alternative to Royal Enfield.”
Dubey said, “As far as the technology is concerned we have done one innovation where we are Eicher-Polaris Pvt Ltd. we have created a product in India at Jaipur, it is a use of our technology and adaptation in the Indian market. On the Indian Motorcycle we are just importing from US. So at this stage we cannot say that we are doing any adaptation for the Indian market.”
There is a shift happening from the lower segment to the higher segment where the growth is significant. Mishra shares, "If you look at the past two year’s data this year has been very rich at a growth rate of 32-37 percent in the segment beyond 200 cc while 100-150 cc segment has declined to 60 percent from 80-82 per cent earlier. In my opinion the overall industry will continue grow at the same pace for the next five years. However, the shift will happen within the segments."
On the technology front UM India has many more to share about the safety features. To this Mishra says, “We have the safety features. When we did a market survey when we needed a sports bike but comfort like Cruiser and that was the trigger point. That it when we designed this bike for Indian market. The customer wants a bike with high power along with all other things like sitting posture and the comfort. So we made a bike which is a mixture of Cruiser and a Sports Bike. We call it as Sportscruiser with 25HP with 280cc and speed of 16.20 seconds that is much faster than a sports bike. Pick up is great, power is great.” He further adds, “It is different when you ride in the city and when you ride on a highway. It makes riding comfortable on highway. The power what we provide is 25HP which is much higher than other bikes. So this is speeder then any other bike. We have safety features like blind spot mirror. This is a feature one gets in the car. The proximity feature. Like some car comes just next to you. The bluetooth helmet. Which has got indicator on helmet. Which helps while riding on a highway. The helmet is a part of bike. The helmet is our own design, our own brand.”
As the year draws to a close, Harley-Davidson India completes six successful years in the country since it commenced retail operations in 2010 and continues to lead in the market by holding 60 per cent market share 1 of the 601+cc motorcycle segment in the country. In line with its strategic objectives, the company remains focused on bringing new riders into the sport of motorcycling while broadening brand appeal through an expansion strategy, quality motorcycles and key initiatives like Legend on Tour, Passport to Freedom, Harley Rock Riders and Discover More campaign.
Commenting on the future plans, Dubet describes, “In next five years you can expect from Indian Motorcycle and ATVs the scale of business will be much higher. The expectation for ATVs or Indian Motorcycle is very high comparatively. In the segment where we are present is very high. When we start with the operations, the things will cool down and will be available for the middle class people. So by 2021. the brand will be well established in India. Not only the customers but everyone would know about the brand.”
Further to this Mishra explains UM Motorcycles vision by saying, “We would like to be most substantial and one of the most trusted brand in India.” He adds, “We have 55 outlets now and for more outlets the planning will execute in June, we have already sold out for next three months. More then 5,000 bookings. So June we will be expanding. We planning for TierII and TierIII as we are already available in Metro cities.”
Mishra says, “We are coming with new bikes. These are the things which customers can expect from us. More graphics in our style. More designs and features to be added. So we trying to bring two bikes every year. We are also getting into 400-500 cc segments. So there is lot to be expected. We will have a complete range of 6-7 bikes.”
“The first thing would be the operations. We are looking at the horizon of two-three years from now, So that will be the first step,” Dubey ends.
“In next five years you can expect from Indian Motorcycle and ATVs the scale of business will be much higher.
MD and Country Manager, Polaris India, and CEO & Director-Eicher Polaris Pvt Ltd
We would like to be most substantial and one of the most trusted brand in India.
Director- UM Motorcycles India & AMEA
(Asia, Middle East & Africa)