Riding high on exports, Bajaj Auto emerged as the largest motorcycle maker in India by sales in April, edging past Hero MotoCorp. The maker of the Pulsar and Discover brands sold 348,173 units last month, of which 221,603 units were exported.
Hero MotoCorp, on the other hand, dispatched 339,329 units during the month. A brief shutdown of its plants by Hero, due to the worsening Covid-19 situation, also helped Bajaj take the lead.
Hero had “proactively halted the plant operations temporarily in a staggered manner for four days from April 22 to May 1 in view of the rapid escalation in the spread of Covid-19 across the country”, it said in a statement on Saturday.
Bajaj Auto expects the strong momentum in exports to continue in the coming months even as the domestic market reels from the impact of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. A fourth of the company’s sales outlets in the country remain shuttered.
The Pune-based company has projected average sales of 200,000-plus units in the overseas markets in the coming months. In FY21, Bajaj Auto’s income from exports stood at Rs 12,687 crore, with 52 per cent of its volumes exported to over 79 countries.
Mitul Shah, head of research at Reliance Securities, expects domestic two-wheeler sales to remain under pressure. “Domestic sales for two-wheeler firms are expected to be subdued, given the localised lockdowns. We expect it to be weaker in May as more states impose lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus,” Shah said.
Most two-wheeler makers reported a month-on-month decline in sales in April as large swathes remained locked up.
Amid disruptions in the domestic market, a strong export push will bode well for companies like Bajaj and TVS Motor, said Shah.
TVS Motor, too, saw its exports surge. The company dispatched 226,193 units during the month, of which 94,807 units were exported — as against 8,134 units in the same month last year. This year’s volumes, however, are not comparable to last year as India went into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days from March 25, 2020.
Under a plan that gives a renewed focus on overseas business expansion, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, which so far had been solely focusing on the domestic market, saw its exports rise, albeit on a low base. The local arm of the Japanese two-wheeler maker shipped 42,945 units, breaching the 40,000-unit mark for the first time in 36 months.
Yadvinder Singh Guleria, director (sales and marketing), Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, said, “Regional lockdowns since the beginning of April have dragged down consumer sentiment considerably. While the need for personal mobility still exists, recovery may be pushed back by a few months as staying safe at home is India’s first priority.”
Honda has undertaken a 15-day closure of its plants amid the raging virus.