If you thought scooters were the fastest growing two-wheelers in the country, you're off the mark. This distinction is being enjoyed by the not-so-happening, not-so-glamorous moped. Though much smaller in volumes than motorcycles and scooters, sales of this low-priced two-wheeler are growing at a staggering rate of almost 28 per cent, compared with 24 per cent and 12 per cent growth in scooters and motorcycles, respectively.
According to data from the Society of Indian Automobiles Manufacturers (SIAM), as many as 633,636 units of mopeds have been sold (domestic market) in the first seven months of FY17 -- that's 27.6 per cent more than corresponding period last year. During the same period, 7.18 million motorcycles and 3.61 million scooters were sold. Overall, 11.34 million two-wheelers have been sold in the country during April-October this year, 16 per cent more to last year.
Interestingly, Chennai-headquartered TVS Motor is the only moped manufacturer in the country and is the sole beneficiary of this surge in sales. The company, which now sells more mopeds than scooters, is likely to see a record volume for mopeds this year. In FY16, TVS sold mopeds worth Rs 1,554 crore or almost 14 per cent of the company's annual revenue. TVS Motor, which roped in superstar Amitabh Bachchan as a brand ambassador for its Jupiter scooter, declined to participate in this story and did not respond to queries about the moped.
TVS commands the third position in the domestic two-wheeler market (after Hero MotoCorp and HMSI, ahead of Bajaj Auto), and enjoys the advantage of having this additional product in its portfolio with no competition. Players like Kinetic Motors and Majestic Auto had a presence in the moped space some years ago. However, both these players exited the two-wheeler space and TVS was left as a monopoly player. TVS manufactures four models of the moped: XL100, XL100 Comfort, XL Super and XL Super Heavy Duty. The price begins at Rs 26,857 (ex-showroom, Delhi) and goes up to Rs 31,000. On some of these models, the company also offers a low interest rate of 5.99 per cent.
Mopeds are sought after by people running smaller businesses due to their weight-carrying and haulage abilities. They are lighter and are easy to manoeuvre in traffic. Mopeds are attractive to goods delivery units in rural and semi-rural areas, said an industry expert. TVS also exported 11,800 units of moped in the April-October period, 27 per cent more compared to last year.
The sharp growth in domestic sales of mopeds comes after a depressing performance last year when it declined by over three per cent. This year's growth indicates the positive impact of a revival in demand from rural and semi-urban markets. These are not very popular in the Northern states but are in great demand in the southern and western regions.