More features, greater power, better styling – it’s getting harder to tell 100/110 cc bikes apart from their more premium counterparts.
The vehicles showcased recently by Mahindra 2 Wheelers and Bajaj Auto, for example, are so different from the entry level bikes one is used to seeing.
Bajaj’s 100cc bike Discover 100T serves up a whopping 87 kpl and 30% more power than 100cc peers at a price tag of Rs50,500 (ex-showroom), while Mahindra’s 110 cc offerings Centuro and Pantero, to be launched in coming weeks, promise car-like features. No kidding.
“We realised that there are sub-segments catching up in the 100cc segment. There is a rapid change in the market and the whole concept of 100-110cc bikes is changing. People prefer more features and sporty designs compared to old designs in the 100cc category,” Viren Popli, executive VP - strategy and market development for Mahindra 2 Wheelers, said at the unveiling.
“Customers want to go up the ladder. They want something better in 100cc. Mileage is no longer the only reason to buy a 100cc bike. Instead of going for a boring bike, customers want a 100cc bike with 125cc-like power,” said K Srinivas, president (motorcycle business), Bajaj Auto.
The gear-shift may be just what the entry level market needs now, to regain lost momentum in the mass market segment – comprising bikes below 125 cc – which contributes roughly two-thirds of the overall motorcycle sales. Going by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, the industry sold 49.08 lakh bikes in the 75-110 cc category during April-December this fiscal, down 2% year on year.
Curiously, according to data provided by Bajaj Auto, the upper end of the entry level motorcycles, which has bikes like Hero Passion Pro and Honda Dream Yuga, has grown 18% compared with 12% in 2006.
“The 100cc category is largely a commoditised market, where people prefer using these bikes for day-to-day operations. The customer profile of this segment generally looks at mileage as one of the major factors for buying a motorcycle,” said Surjit Singh Arora, analyst, Prabhudas Lilladher.
So far, this segment has been dominated by market leader Hero MotoCorp with its Splendor and Passion models, though Honda’s Dream Yuga has generated significant volumes, spurring the Japanese company on to ready another 100cc offering.
Some experts, however, feel pricing and fuel efficiency will remain major driving factors.
“How much ever features manufacturers offer, the customer will prefer mileage. The perception will take some time to change,” said Arora.