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With the scooter being increasingly getting positioned as the 'family vehicle', two wheeler buyers are increasingly opting for scooters in place of motorbikes. Industry insiders say that while bikes have been growing at around 9-10 per cent compounded growth rate, scooters have been clocking an over 20 per cent growth in the last few years.

In key two-wheeler pockets like Ahmedabad, scooters account for nearly 50-53 per cent of overall two-wheeler sales in the city. If one considers the April to August period this year, data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) shows that while the scooters and scooterettes segment has grown by 30.72 per cent motorcycles have grown by 10 per cent.

Motorcycles have a much larger base though. Say for example, in comparison to 4.5 million motorbikes sold during April to August this fiscal, scooters are only 1.7 million units, or in other words, the bike market size is nearly three times of that of scooters. However, this does not lighten the fact that there is a growing trend for two-wheeler buyers opting for scooters. For that matter, as companies point out, scooters, primarily considered an urban vehicles, have started making inroads into the non-urban areas as well.

As Y S Guleria, vice president, sales and marketing of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) explained, "We are gradually witnessing a higher penetration of scooters in the rural or non-urban areas. This is happening with reference to more women empowerment in these areas who are opting for independent mobility." As a result, HMSI, the market leader in two wheelers is now focussing on increasing its footprint in non-urban areas as well. The tables are definitely turning. "Earlier, the ratio of motorcycles is to scooters used to be around 9:1 (in favour of bikes) in these areas, which has now changed to 8:2, showing a clear shift towards scooters," he added.

One of the major reasons behind this shift is that scooters are increasingly being seen as a family vehicle. Dharmendra Mishra, vice president, sales and customer care, Mahindra Two Wheelers Ltd, said that "Scooters are used by several members of the family. Women do not feel comfortable riding bikes, but a scooter is used by both male and female members of the family, and it is increasingly getting seen as a family vehicle." Keeping this in mind, Mahindra has added a new feature of adjustable seats to its recently launched scooter, the Gusto, such that it suits the requirement of a taller or a shorter member of a family.

Add to this, the manufacturers' focus on styling and increasing mileage. "There has been a sea change in terms of styling of scooters, as well as technology to offer better fuel efficiency. Moreover, a scooter has more storage capacity compared to a bike, and is more convenient as a family vehicle," Guleria said.

In key markets like Gujarat, nearly 40 per cent of all two-wheelers sold are scooters, and the percentage is even higher in cities like Ahmedabad (50-53 per cent), informed Sukhbir Bagga, director, Group Planet Petal which operates 32 dealerships across the state covering six brands including even two-wheeler brands like Yamaha. Industry players feel that there is a direct corelation between popularity of scooters and the level of development of a city.

"In places like Chandigarh, where one would find lots of educational institutes, demand for scooters is high. Same with developed states like Gujarat. In states like Goa and Kerala, where literacy levels are high, demand is high too. More number of working women into the population, or lets say students, who seek independent mobility, the demand for scooters rise," Guleria explained.

As such 35-40 per cent of scooter users are women.