Mumbai: Motorcycle manufacturers in India are striking back at the decline in sales with a flurry of new and refreshed models, many of them fitted with bigger engines to attract urban customers.

More than 15 new products are expected to be in the market in the next six months, executives at two-wheeler firms said.

Sales of motorcycles in the domestic market dropped 2% to 2.7 million units during April-June from a year ago, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam).

The firms plan to launch the new models during the festival season that starts with Ganesh Chaturthi on 17 September.

Majority of the new launches are in the 125cc-and-above segment, as the relatively better performing urban markets catch the companies’ attention.

Four models unveiled by Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Pvt. Ltd (HMSI) in New Delhi on Tuesday target urban buyers. These include the high-end CBR650F (priced at 7.3 lakh, ex-showroom, New Delhi), CBHornet 160R, a refreshed CBR150R and CBR250R. Apart from the four, plans for an unnamed bike for young professionals were also announced.

The new launches are “aimed at revamping (the) company’s motorcycle portfolio for youth", said Y.S. Guleria, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, HMSI. Barring CBR650F, which went on sale from Tuesday, all others will be launched over the next six months.

According to Guleria, there are signs of growth in the segment hosting bikes of 150cc and above, even as the 100-110cc segment has been facing pressure since November.

Honda’s new launches come against the backdrop of slowing motorcycle sales. In April-June, it sold 381,493 units, down 10% over a year ago. Its market share during the period also dropped to 14% from 15.43%, according to Siam. The volumes have been dragged down by its Dream series of bikes in the entry-level.

The introduction of the new models, said Guleria, coincided with the slowdown in the market. Three years ago, the 100-110cc segment contributed 48% to the market; it’s now down to 42%, he said.

Bajaj Auto Ltd, the maker of Pulsar and Discover models, plans to launch at least two new models in the current fiscal year. These include a cruiser motorcycle in the current quarter and another model based on the Discover platform later in the year, said Kevin D’sa, the company’s chief financial officer, while talking to analysts during a post-earnings call on 24 July.

The launches will help the company grow at 14% and meet its target of 23-24% share in the segment by the end of the fiscal year, even as it expects the overall market to grow by just 4%.

Hero MotoCorp Ltd, which has also seen sales of its motorcycles hit the slow lane in the past few months, seems to have prioritized scooters over motorcycles for the festive season.

The company plans to launch two new scooters over the next couple of months, said Ravi Sud, chief financial officer, while interacting with analysts in a post-earnings call on 4 August.

Unlike motorcycles, scooter sales continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace than the previous years. Sales grew 7% to 107,953 units in the three months to June over a year ago. Hero, which launched three new models—Xtreme Sports, Passion Pro and HF Deluxe—has plans to bring more bike models in the months ahead, said a company spokesperson, declining to give more details. Hero’s motorcycle sales in the June quarter dropped to 1.45 million units from 1.49 million units a year ago.

Smaller rivals in the mass motorcycle segment, too, want to cash in on the festive season. TVS Motor Co. Ltd plans to launch the new Apache in September, and then the Victor, the company’s management told analysts in a post-earnings call last month. It also plans to introduce a new model by the end of the current fiscal. The launches are part of a target to shore up the firm’s share in the two-wheeler segment—from the current 13.5% to 14%—by year-end.

India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd, which launched the Saluto motorcycle last month, plans to bring another model in the so-called performance (150cc-and-above) segment this month, said Roy Kurian, vice-president, sales and marketing, at the firm. He declined to elaborate.

The new motorcycle launches will sure help prop up overall volumes. But they are unlikely to sustain the momentum if the monsoon, which has a major role in shaping sentiments in rural as well as urban markets, does not live up to expectations, said an analyst at a domestic brokerage, who declined to be identified. He expects the overall motorcycle market to grow 3-4% by the end of the fiscal year.

A sustained demand in urban markets, which too have started slowing (considering the slowing pace of growth in the scooter market, which fell to 7% in the June quarter from 15% a year ago), will also be critical.