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Mumbai: Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Pvt. Ltd has overtaken Bajaj Auto Ltd as the country’s second largest two-wheeler maker by volume on a quarterly basis the first time since it began operations in 2001.

In the three months to June, sales at Pune-based Bajaj Auto slipped 0.75% from a year ago to 618,489 units, while Honda’s sales jumped 53.56% to 622,176, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, or Siam.

K. Srinivas, president, motorcycle business, Bajaj Auto, declined to comment on the numbers due to the mandatory so-called silent period before the company declares its quarterly earnings on Wednesday.

Sales volumes of the two firms, though, are “not strictly comparable" as Bajaj is not present in the scooter segment and draws 30% of its sales from exports, said Ronak Sarda, analyst at domestic brokerage MSFL Research.

Racing ahead: Motorcycles produced by Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India are displayed in the reception of the company’s plant in Manesar. Photo: Bloomberg

Scooters accounted for more than half of Honda’s sales volume, said Y.S. Guleria, the firm’s operating head-sales and marketing.

Hero MotoCorp Ltd sold nearly 1.6 million units in the three months to June, more than double its rivals’ sales.

Honda has been stepping on the gas since it separated from the Hero group last year. Production capacity at its three plants will reach 4 million units by mid 2013.

Honda in May said its target is to be the No.1 two-wheeler maker in India by 2020. It aims to increase its contribution to its Japanese parent Honda Motor Co. Ltd’s revenue from two-wheeler sales to 30% by 2020 from 13% in fiscal 2012.

Bajaj has been ceding ground to Honda for some time now. In the three months to June, its market share slipped two percentage points to 17.57% while Honda’s share increased to 17.68% from 12.52%.

Bajaj Auto’s shares closed at Rs1,447.15, down 2.43%, in Mumbai trading, while the Sensex was little changed. Honda Motorcycle is not listed in India.

shally.s@livemint.com

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