Reacting to the Indian government’s decision to allow the import of Harley-Davidson bikes, the domestic units of Yamaha Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co., two of the world’s largest two-wheeler brands, said they were also looking to introduce heavier bikes in the country.
“That’s good news,” said Tomotaka Ishikawa, managing director of Yamaha Motor India Pvt. Ltd. “We’ll be looking to introduce, selectively, some of our larger models.”
He didn’t specify the models. Yamaha has already applied for certification of the bikes it may bring.
India’s six-million-a-year motorcycle market is dominated by fuel-efficient motorcycles with an engine capacity of 100cc; these are the nation’s main mode of transport and eight out of every 10 motorcycles sold in the country is a commuter bike.
Harley bikes are typically more than 500cc, and while the government has decided to allow these bikes based on Euro III emission norms followed in Europe, the same provision will be extended to Yamaha and Honda for their bikes, according to officials in the government, who didn’t want to be named.
Currently, imports of such motorcycles are allowed only on a case-by-case basis and happen in small numbers because of a 103% duty they attract.
“We want to introduce our global models to Indian customers,” said Yukihiro Aoshima, president of Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Pvt. Ltd at a press conference.
Honda is the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer and makes over 12 million units a year including bikes such as the CBR600RR and CB600F Hornet, which share many features with its racing bikes on the MotoGP circuits. Yamaha, which makes about 3.8 million vehicles a year, is known both for its sports-style models such as the YZFR1 and Roadliner, a range of cruisers.
However, the Japanese big bikes won’t come cheap, with the entry-level bikes retailing at around $4,500 (Rs2 lakh) in markets such as the US. Both companies are targeting the wealthy in India, but declined to comment on the number of units they expected to sell.
Eicher Motor Ltd’s, Royal Enfield division, which makes the Bullet bike, is the only maker of motorcycles with engine capacities of 350cc and 500cc. Its six models are priced at over Rs70,000 and the company sells around 32,000 motorcycles every year.
Mint first reported on 19 March that Harley-Davidson Inc, the maker of cult bikes such as the V-Rod, hopes to import about 2,000 bikes over three years. The cheapest Harley is expected to be priced over Rs4 lakh.
India’s two-wheeler market is dominated by Hero Honda Motors Ltd and Bajaj Auto Ltd, which make every eight of 10 bikes sold in the country. Yamaha, which entered the market 20 years ago, has a 3.6% market share and is looking to revive its Indian operations.
Honda Motorcycles, which came to India in 2001, is more of a scooter-segment player, and it has a 55% market share. Its two motorcycle models, the Unicorn and Shine, have a 2.5% share of the bikes market.
Monica Gupta contributed to this story.