The bike completed six months as India’s highest selling two-wheeler in June — a feat that was unthinkable for a scooter 5 years ago.
For the last 17 years, the No. 1 position used to be taken up by bikes like Hero Splendor.
However, partly due to Activa’s rising popularity and partly due to the fragmentation of the motorcycle market, the scooter is now India’s undisputed two-wheeler king.
Hero, a former partner for Honda in India, has seen the popularity of its Splendor brand of commuter bike decline in recent years as a host of new models from rivals including Honda have attacked its turf.
“Ending the 17 year long monopoly of motorcycles, Honda’s Activa (an automatic scooter) is now ruling 2Wheeler sales as India’s highest selling 2Wheeler of 2016* with a lead of over 1 lac units over its nearest competition,” Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India said.
Activa’s domestic sales stood at 1,34 mln in the first half of 2016 compared to 1.23 mln in the same period of 2015.
The scooter segment was left for dead about 8-10 years ago, when scooter-makers like Bajaj Auto and LML left the field. Bajaj, for example, felt Indians would not be interested in scooters if they could afford a motorcycle.
However, Honda’s flagship Activa changed perceptions, initially targeting those who were wary of riding motorcycles — such as ladies and older folk. The bike was first introduced in India 15 years ago.
Sales of Activa rose exponentially from 55,000 units in its debut year (FY’2001-02) to over 2.46 million units in last FY’2015-16.
Every second automatic scooter purchased in India today is a Honda Activa. Activa sales alone contributes 15% to the domestic 2Wheeler industry – which is more than entire 125cc motorcycle segment sales put together.
However, with its automatic transmission, ease of handling and reputation for reliability, Activa heralded a return for scooters in the Indian market.
“Activa today represents the metamorphosis of the society. The superior convenience, unisex appeal coupled with product features (increased mileage, style and technology) has converted millions from pillions to riders,” said Yadvinder Singh Guleria, Senior Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India.
Encouraged by Honda’s success, others such as Suzuki, Vespa and Yamaha have also launched their scooter models in India. Yamaha, another Japanese brand, is among the fastest growing scooter brands in the country.