Home >Auto News >Top-level exits at two-wheeler firms signal churn in industry

Mumbai: India’s two-wheeler industry has witnessed more than a dozen top-level and senior management changes in the past nine months, shows data compiled by Mint. The most recent departure is Arun Siddharth, vice president (marketing) - premium vehicles and international business, TVS Motor Company.

Yogesh Phogat, who has served Ducati India for more than five years as director of commercial operations, is also on his way out, two industry executives aware of the development told Mint. Phogat has put down his papers and is currently serving his notice period. Ducati India declined to comment on the matter.

Other recent departures include Ashok Bhasin, who headed the sales and marketing vertical of Hero MotoCorp; Amit Nandi, who headed KTM in India and in other South Asian markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia; Rudratej Singh, former president, Royal Enfield; Vimal Sumbly, ex-managing director, Triumph Motorcycles India; Sajeev Rajasekharan, ex-EVP, Suzuki Motorcycle India; and Roy Kurian, former senior vice president, sales and marketing, Yamaha Motor India Sales.

Bhasin, Hero MotoCorp said, has superannuated at the age of 58.

Industry experts suggest that tough market conditions, including low demand, absence of liquidity, and incoming emission and safety mandates are key contributors to the moves. Data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers earlier on Monday showed domestic dispatches in the two-wheeler industry grew by 4.86% year-on-year in fiscal year 2019.

Speaking to Mint, an industry veteran, who currently occupies a senior leadership position in one of the largest two-wheeler companies in India, requesting anonymity, said: “The two-wheeler market is clearly not doing well, thanks to the tight liquidity. Companies are already having a tough time handling the current headwinds. We have emission and safety norms that are coming up. This shakes up the value chain across R&D and production."

“We are no leaders in technology. Instead, we lack risk-taking appetite and are driven by paybacks on investments in shorter terms. Indian two-wheeler industry has, for several years, lacked any long-term technology-driven vision, and it has never been at par with the fast changing tech trends globally. Many in their leadership roles don’t know how to handle this transition smoothly and balance out sales at the same time," he added.

Siddharth, who has worked with Chennai-based TVS Motor for more than 16 years and was closely involved in building the Apache motorcycle brand, has already served his notice period.

Nandi, on the other hand, has worked with the Pune-based motorcycle manufacturer for more than 12 years across two stints. The primary reasons behind their respective departures are unknown at the moment.

Meanwhile, Sarang Kanade has taken up his new role as head of the motorcycle business unit at Bajaj Auto, the company confirmed.

Last July, Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto, in a letter to his employees, had announced a major management reshuffle attributing it to “a complex future combining unyielding competitive forces, intensifying regulatory requirements, and escalating disruptive technologies".

The top boss at Bajaj Auto had, in July 2018, created the position of chief commercial officer (CCO) to bring together all business units in the pursuit of four key issues: Product harmonization, marketing synergies, customer focus and corporate alignment. Rakesh Sharma, who prior to this announcement headed the international business, was promoted to take up the new role. As a result, K.S. Grihapathy was given the role to lead the export business unit.

Explaining her outlook on the prospects of the two-wheeler industry in FY20, Anupama Arora, vice president, sector head – corporate ratings, ICRA, said: “We expect Indian two-wheeler industry to report modest volume growth during FY20 with subdued consumer sentiments continuing to weigh on demand in H1. While easing liquidity issues for NBFC financiers, as well as moderation in commodity inflation, are positives, the tightened safety norms (effective FY20) as well as transition to BS VI norms from April 2020 with significant cost implications, would have significant bearing on vehicle costs, thus dampening demand prospects."

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