Bajaj Auto pips Hero MotoCorp to become No 1 motorcycle maker in November

Bajaj Auto pips Hero MotoCorp to become No 1 motorcycle maker in November

A structural slowdown facing the world’s largest two-wheeler market has changed the equations in the segment, with Bajaj Auto emerging as the largest motorcycle maker in November, zipping past market leader Hero MotoCorp.

The Pune-based firm sold a total of 337,962 units in November in the domestic and exports market against the 329,185 units sold by Hero MotoCorp, shows the monthly sales data released by the companies on 1 December.

Though Hero continues to maintain a clear lead in the domestic market, it’s the first time that the Rajiv Bajaj-led firm has managed to take the pole position from its archrival in terms of total motorcycle sales.

Hero sold 328,862 motorcycles in the domestic market in November as compared to Bajaj Auto’s 144,953 units.

The only other time when Bajaj sold more motorcycles than Hero was during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) induced national lockdown in April and May 2020 that had halted production and sales in the domestic market, but exports continued in a small measure.

During the month, the country’s largest motorcycle exporter shipped 57 per cent of its total output to the markets outside India helping it offset the 23 per cent decline in the domestic motorcycle market.

On the other hand, an overdependence on the domestic market reeling under a multi-year slowdown, led to a sales collapse at Hero MotoCorp in the second last month of the calendar year. Two -wheeler buyers in India have been shying away from purchasing scooters and motorcycles amid rising fuel prices, increasing prices and high ownership costs.

Motorcycle and scooter sales at Hero fell 39.2 per cent to 349,393 units in November against 575,957 units in the same month a year ago.

A weak festive season has led to a stockpiling at the company's sales channels forcing the company to curtail dispatches during the month. Auto companies in India count dispatches to dealers as sales.

On an average Hero has unsold stock of 45 to 60 days at its channels, according to dealer estimates.

Most of the other two-wheeler makers including TVS Motor, Honda Motorcycle and Scooters India, Royal Enfield, among others also saw sales skid during the month in the domestic market even as exports helped them cushion the fall to some extent.

Domestic two-wheeler sales at TVS fell 29 per cent year on year to 175,940 units. Domestic sales at HMSI that draws close to 65 per cent of its sales from scooters also dropped 38 per cent to 256,170 units against 412,642 units.

A weak offtake in rural sales has also added to the woes of companies. Sluggish rural sales are attributed to depressed agri sentiments caused by uneven monsoons and delayed harvesting across regions. In urban markets, the delay in reopening of schools and colleges, weak income sentiments due to job losses or salary cuts (in the aftermath of the pandemic) and extended work-from-home policies by corporates have been weighing on sales.