The stellar growth in demand for scooters even during the slowdown has pushed these ahead of motorcycles, marking a shift in consumer taste. Sales of scooters will have outpaced those of motorcycles in the 110-125cc segment by the end of this financial year.
Scooters are no longer considered the second vehicle in the family. By the end of last month, 2,434,025 scooters in the segment were sold in the country against 1,765,868 motorcycles, show data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. That was a growth of 25 per cent year-on-year for scooters in April-February even as sales of motorcycles fell three per cent in the period.
Lower mileage was a reason why people used to prefer motorcycles over scooters. Scooter makers have through technological advancements closed that gap. From 35-40 km a litre, scooters now run as much as 60 km on a litre of petrol.
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Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India has the lion's share of the market at 53 per cent. The Honda Activa is the largest selling scooter in India, at around 100,000 a month.
The scooter's share among two-wheelers was up to 24 per cent by the end of February from 16 per cent at the end of March 2010. In 2012 and 2013, seven scooters were launched, including the Honda Dio, the Hero Maestro and the Vespa LX.
Yadvinder Singh Guleria, vice-president (sales and marketing), Honda, said, "There is no denying the fact that there is increased acceptability of scooters in the market. Motorcycle buyers in rural and semi-urban areas look for comfort, mileage and utility, which a scooter provides. We are expecting greater reach of scooters in the future."
Bajaj stopped making scooters five years ago, with its last Kristal automatic model. The company has maintained it is not interested in scooters anymore and will continue to focus on motorcycles.
More scooter launches are expected this year, apart from manufacturers expanding capacity for some of their old models. Next month, Honda will launch a 125cc Activa, showcased at the Auto Expo in February. Hero will launch the 125cc Dare and the 150cc Zir. TVS Motor will roll out the Zest and Suzuki the Let's in the coming weeks.