India is the largest market for two-wheelers in the world, yet a handful of machines made in the country are not sold here.
TVS Motors, Bajaj Auto, Yamaha and Mahindra Two Wheelers make motorcycles, scooters and step-throughs exclusively for export. Some of these models were never launched in India and others were phased out for lack of demand. The latter are being pushed in export markets to keep production lines running. Twelve of TVS Motors’ 22 models are meant solely for export, particularly to Southeast Asia. TVS is the country’s second biggest exporter of two-wheelers.
“We export two-wheelers to more than 50 countries. The vehicles are modified to suit the requirements of each country, such as road condition, quality of fuel and emission regulations,” said R Dilip, senior vice-president, international business, TVS Motors.
Bajaj Auto makes and exports motorcycles not just under its own brand but for its partner brand as well. One of the best-selling street bikes of Austrian off-road biking brand KTM, the Duke 125, is made at the Chakan facility of Bajaj Auto near Pune. Further, Bajaj is slowing gaining market leadership in Africa, led by the Boxer brand, which was brought back to the Indian market after many years but faced stiff competition and was phased out. The Pulsar 135 might have failed to sustain interest in India but the model has been doing well in exports. The Pulsar has not yet been phased out from India.
Bajaj Auto, which is also India’s biggest two- and three-wheeler exporter, has been making the Qute (RE60) quadricycle for many months but the model is yet to be launched in India. Exported to over 10 countries, including Turkey, Kenya and Liberia, the launch of the Qute is stuck in public interest litigation, now being heard by the Supreme Court.
Mahindra Two Wheelers, the motorcycle and scooter subsidiary of Mumbai-based Mahindra & Mahindra, makes a budget motorcycle Arro solely for the export market. Though M&M has faced little success in this space in India, the company exports the Arro, a 110 cc bike, to Africa.
Japanese bike major Yamaha is also in this list with the export of its YD125 model.
Markets like Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, where Japanese heavyweights like Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki do not have a strong presence, are being targeted by Indian brands.
Indian two-wheelers are priced competitively in these markets and the companies are planning to set up satellite manufacturing or assembly centres to make them even more cost-competitive.