Riding High: Honda2Wheeler sees healthy Sep dispatches, southern support (IANS Interview, Lead)

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By Rohit Vaid
New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) A raging pandemic along with a phase of astrologically inauspicious time period does not seem to bother Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India which foresees accelerated demand and dispatches for September.

According to Yadvinder Singh Guleria, Director, Sales and Marketing, HMSI, ease in Covid restrictions, current stock levels at the dealerships and high customer enquiries have bolstered the recovery prospects.

The two-wheeler giant had reported a growth of just 1 per cent in domestic sales last month on a year-on-year basis.

Accordingly, the company’s total sales during August stood at 4,43,969 units, including 4,28,231 domestic off-take and 15,738 exports.

Sequentially, Honda’s sales grew by a significant 38 per cent in August comp ared to July.

“We are optimistic for September. However, factors like rising Covid cases per day, persistence of some local lockdowns and the inauspicious period in September can not be ignored,” he told IANS.

“On the other hand, 95 per cent of our network is back, we have witnessed rising number of enquiries about new products, in some cases 75 per cent more test rides have taken place on a fortnightly basis and then there is the pent-up demand factor as well.”

Traditionally, sales momentum has slowed down during the astrologically inauspicious time period of ‘Shradh’ as customers postpone their buying decision.

Interestingly, after 160 years, this inauspicious time period is followed by a ‘gap month’ in astrological calendar, that is delaying the onset of festive season.

These notions and traditions are highly believed and followed in rural India, which is also a base for two-wheeler consumption.

Nonetheless, Guleria cited the urban base of the company as a major contributor to its overall growth.

“We have a significant presence in urban areas. Now, we are also see ing some ‘green shoots’ in urban demand as the pandemic spreads to semi rural areas and the hinterland,” he said during the interaction.

“Southern region has boosted our prospects. We have a healthy traction in this region. Overall, rural sales will continue to be a major contributor to our sales as healthy monsoon rains, higher crop output and support pr ices will bolster buying sentiment.”

On the upcoming festive season, he said the two-wheeler major was now confident of achieving healthy sales level during this period.

“There will be pent-up demand and customers will be attracted to new offerings, we are now working with our dealers to prepare ahead to meet this demand,” he said.

“Production and dispatches levels are optimal but you really do not want to overstock during these uncertain times.”

The company has a line-up of 14 models including its latest motorcycle Hornet 2.0 dispatched for the festive season.

In terms of new offerings, Guleria cited that recently launched motorcycles h ave reached dealerships and received healthy response.

“We have witnessed this shift towards personal mobility due to Covid. This shift is not entirely towards purchase of cars but the demand trajectory is for two-wheelers,” he explained.

“We have also witnessed that customers’ fear factor has gone down and the enquiries rate has increased. All these combined will give a healthy push during the festive season.”

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at rohit.v@ians.in)

–IANS
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