Superbike sales show no sign of slowing down

In India's auto market, where small, fuel-efficient two-wheelers outsell anything on wheels, the demand for high-end motorcycles is growing at a fast clip even in a year of sluggish growth across sectors. It's still a niche segment that sells under a thousand motorcycles a year, the cheapest costing as much as a mid-sized car, but one that's bucking the trend with an annual average growth of 30% as per industry estimates.

Super bikes at the entry-level category of 800 cc start at about R7 lakh, while those in the 1000-1800 cc segment cost anywhere between R15-35 lakh. But the astronomical prices have not dampened the spirits of the Indian superbike customer, and the manufacturers have sensed that. Over the past couple of years, some of the world's biggest brands such as Harley-Davidson and BMW Motorrad have made a beeline to India to tap this nascent market. Triumph, the iconic British motorcycle brand, too, has announced plans to enter the market.

Italian bike maker Ducati expects sales this year to grow three-fold to 450 units from around 150 units in 2011. The demand is mostly coming from Delhi and Mumbai, while cities like Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Bangalore and Chennai hold good potential. The company, which sells models such as the Diavel, Multistrada and 848 Evo, had clocked sales of 100 bikes in 2010, its first year of operations in the country.

"The sales have been encouraging and we expect a healthy growth rate over the next five years," says Ashish Chordia, director, Precision Motor India, the distributor and service provider for Ducati in India. "As you can see from our sales figures, a growth of 50% has been possible even during the slowdown. The main reason for sales bucking the overall trend is that these products are aspirational purchases," he adds.

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