two-wheeler industry is witnessing changing trends with increasing
scooterisation and the share of commuter motorcycles decreasing. What are your
views on this?
Because of the rapid urbanisation in the country, the demand
for scooters is increasing. The scooter market is going to grow further. The
commuter biking where one goes from Point A to Point B, is changing in favour
of passion biking. The passion biking is more about weekend biking, about
brotherhood, riding on highways, etc. The trend is definitely changing. For the
next decade or so you will see consumers moving into higher cc bikes,
especially the segment we are in at present.
With your 60 odd
dealers at present, your company must be focussing on the major metros. What
about tier II and III locations?
It’s a myth that the demand for our kind of bikes come only
from tier I cities, even the ones in tier II and III are digitally connected
and are aware of what we have to offer.
There is a huge demand coming from smaller markets too. Currently we
have 70 dealers and soon we shall have 100 dealers. Our strategy will be move
to the tier II and III cities and towns.
You are in a segment
where there are two big two-wheeler manufacturers present. How do you deal with
We respect competition and both the competitors you are
indicating to have been in India for the last four or five decades. They have
got high brand visibility. I do not think we are competing with them. We are in
a very niche segment. When we did our surveys with potential consumers, they
told us they love sports bikes. So getting into this segment was a huge gamble.
A lot of motorcycle makers in India were hesitant to get into the cruiser
segment. We took this gamble and we are trying to meet the aspirations of the
consumers. There is enough space for us to grow. The two competitors are doing
well and we too can do well.
Is the UM Lohia Two
Wheelers plant in Kashipur in Uttarakhand fulfilling all your production needs?
So far we have been doing good together. We have been making
bikes here at this plant. It has a capacity of making 5000 motorcycles a month.
There is enough space to expand further. We have been talking about setting up
a new plant in South India with the same partner. We are looking for space
there to cater to markets in south and west. This partnership is flourishing
and is doing well. Most of the components we are getting for this motorcycle
are being sourced from south and west India. Besides, 60pc of our bikes are
being sold in south India while north and east India cater to 40 per cent of
our market. It would make more sense to have
another plant in south India because this facility will exhaust its capacity by
next financial year. This could take one or one and a half years and it would
be a greenfield project.
Can you reiterate how
many motorcycles you have sold to date?
We started selling these motorcycles from October 2016. It’s
almost a year now. There were a few occasions like the transition from BS III
to BS IV and implementation of the GST, where we had to put a brake. GST
implementation was a big jolt to us as we were in the excise free zone. But
with all this we were able to sell more than 11,000 bikes. That is a
commendable thing for a company which started from scratch. We are very
confident of the UM brand today.
The new motorcycles
Renegade Commando Classic and Mohave that you have launched are avatars of the
existing Commando model. Was there a need for these two new bikes?
Yes, there was a vacuum in the segment when it
came to more stylish bikes. Consumers are looking for something exclusive. They
are bored with the same bikes, the same looks, etc. I guess they need some
fresh products in the market and that is what we are offering them. Yes, these
are part of the Commando family. The new bikes which we shall be offering in a
year’s time would be of a different engine set.