Within overall two-wheeler export, up 20.2 per cent during the first nine months (April to December) of this financial year, the high-end segment has seen a surge.
The above 250cc but less than 350cc category, for example, has seen six-fold growth, up 494 per cent on a year on year basis (from 4,108 units to 24,411 units). The high end category saw robust growth in export during the period — primarily banking on TVS Motor exporting BMW bikes from its Hosur (near Bengaluru) facilitY and Bajaj's KTM and Dominar BIKES.
TVS started exporting the 310cc bikes for BMW, the German automobile major, in March 2017. The 310 motorcycle and its engine were developed jointly with BMW. TVS exported 19,377 units of the motorcycle during the April to December period, nearly 80 per cent of category export. The company had entered into a partnership with BMW Motorrad to manufacture sub-500 cc bikes for both the Indian and global markets in April 2013; TVS has infused around Rs 400 crore in the venture.
While it launched the Apache RR 310 (jointly developed with BMW) for the Indian market only last month, it had earlier started exporting this.
The other major player in the 250-350cc segment is Royal Enfield; it exported 4,981 units. The Bullet 350 Twinspark is its leading model in this category. The company entered the Vietnamese market in 2017 and even opened a flagship store in that country. It is aiming to meet market regulations in the US for vehicles like the Himalayan and plans to launch the Euro IV Himalayan in France in 2018.
The above 350cc but less than 500cc segment grew 215 per cent, year on year. Bajaj Auto accounted for the bulk of export in this category, with 386 per cent growth to 29,869 units. In fact, around half the sales of the Bajaj Dominar 400 (that draws power from a KTM-sourced engine) come from export. The vehicle is exported to Latin American countries, apart from South Asian markets, and is also expected to begin going to Australia.
Bajaj already exports KTM bikes to several countries. S Ravikumar, president, business development, felt the growth momentum in high-end motorcycle export. “The Dominar has done well in export. For the KTM bikes (for which we follow a calendar year) we exported around 50,000 in 2017 and this trend is expected to continue in the coming quarters,” he said.
The 500-800cc category, however, saw a marginal dip in export, from 4,854 units in April to December 2016 to 4,663 units in April to December 2017. Harley-Davidson exported 4,032 units (the Street 750 being a key model). Royal Enfield exported 601 units of the Continental GT, a model it plans to stop selling in India. In fact, it sold only one Continental GT in the domestic market in December 2017, indicating it has pulled the plug. Reports suggest the company will continue to make the model for the export markets, even as it plans to launch the new Continental GT 650 for India.
The commuter segment (110-125cc) saw 55 per cent growth in overall export. Here, too, Bajaj exported more (109,973 units) than it sold in India (91,968 units).
Overall two-wheeler export from India grew consistently between FY06 and FY16, barring FY13; however, FY17 saw a six per cent fall. Ratings agency ICRA said two-wheeler export in FY17 was impacted by the slump in crude oil prices, with many of the large markets that Indian makers ship to, including oil-dependent countries in Africa and Latin America, facing issues due to currency depreciation, economic volatility and non-availability of the dollar. The growth in export volume during the current year has been led primarily by recovery in the motorcycle segment