Rajasthan dealers slam brakes on 2-wheelers, protest freebies

Two-wheeler dealers in Rajasthan will halt sales of motorbikes and scooters from Saturday to protest against the state transport department's order of giving two helmets free of cost on every two-wheeler sold.

A two-wheeler dealer association has decided to move the Rajasthan high court against the state transport commissioner's order, which was enforced from the beginning of this month (April).

According to Rajasthan Motor Vehicles Rules, 1990, all two-wheeler riders and pillion riders have to wear helmets.

REVVING DOWN Rs 45,000: Cost of an entry-level 100-cc motorcycle
  Rs 1,800: or 4% dealers get as margin on the bike's sale
  Two free helmets: Ordered by Rajasthan govt on sale of each two-wheeler. Two helmets will cost Rs 1,000 to the dealer and  will eat into this margin
  84,000: Average sale of two-wheelers per month last year in Rajasthan
  Will move court: Dealers are preparing to petition high court against the order
“Vehicle manufacturers are expected to provide BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards)-approved helmets free of cost to buyers,” said a circular issued by the Rajasthan transport department.

Two-wheelers dealers, who have been feeling the pinch of slow sales in the whole of last year, say that such an additional cost would only increase their financial burden.

"A pair of BIS-approved helmets cost Rs 950-1,100. Ours is a low-margin business and a dealer cannot absorb this additional cost. We have decided to move the high court and stop sales until the order is corrected,” said a dealer of Hero MotoCorp.

Kerala, too, issued a circular last month asking two-wheeler dealers to provide a helmet, number plate, rear-view mirror, saree guard, and handle grab for pillion rider, free of cost to every two-wheeler buyer.

The Kerala transport commissioner also stated that dealers that did not comply with the rule stood to get their trade certificates cancelled.

Dealers in Kerala are providing a helmet and number plate for free with every two-wheeler.

Rajasthan is considered to be among the bigger two-wheeler markets (like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat) which saw an average sale of 84,000 units per month last year.

Rajasthan is dominated by entry-level, high-mileage motorcycles, which account for 60 per cent of all-India sales.

Two-wheeler sales in the western Indian state is dominated by rural pockets, with bike market leader Hero MotoCorp clocking more than half the state's sales, followed by Honda, Bajaj Auto, and TVS Motor Company.

A Hero MotoCorp spokesperson said, “We are hopeful of a quick and amicable solution to the situation.”

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India declined comment.  

The directive by the two state governments making it mandatory to dealers to provide helmets is only an enforcement of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), 1989.

It is noticed that in Kerala  the CMVR, Rule 138(F), is not being honoured.

This resulted in increased accidental deaths.

“It has been clearly found that a lack of helmet on the rider is the main reason,” stated a circular by the Kerala transport commissioner.

In February, the transport department of Maharashtra issued a circular following a Bombay High Court order which made it compulsory for bikers and pillion riders to wear a helmet.

While helmets are to be provided by the dealers in Maharashtra, they are, however, not to be given for free.

Motorcycle sales ended 2015-16 with a fall for the first time since 2007-08, at 10.7 million units, a decline of 0.24 per cent.

Scooter sales marked a growth of 12 per cent during 2015-16 to close at five million units, according to data by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.