The post-launch response to the R3 is good. We have sold more than 600 units of this model (in 5-6 months). We will try to push it through the various digital marketing platforms because I think for this class of customers, awareness is not an issue.
Earlier buyers who were not interested in buying a sportsbike had no choice but to give up to the existing options in the market. Now people have multiple choices. For example, a boy who likes sportsbikes and is into racing will ultimately buy the Yamaha R3. For him a streetbike would mean nothing.
As regards the R3, potential buyers are riding it on a regular basis, realising how good it is and then spreading the information word of mouth. The same thing happened with the YZF-R15, which transformed the entry level sportsbike segment in India when Yamaha had rolled it out in 2003. I recall the days when we used to have 5,000-6,000 bookings in the months after its launch and there was a long waiting period across dealerships for this model. Sales eventually settled down. We never really promoted the R15s and even today around 3,000 units are sold every month.
Therefore, we just have to be patient with the R3 in the market as the product has a lot to offer in terms of value and packaging. So while we were talking about 200 units per month and it is selling around 100 units per month as of now, I think once it stabilises at this sales level, it will build up to 200 units per month.
So you plan to continue to stick to sales of 2,000 units for the first year for the R3?
For the first year, it might land up selling 1,500 units but will pick up later. The R series is a legacy and we don’t have to talk about it to promote it. Riding enthusiasts who love racing are aware of the products and the brand. I really understood the R3 when I rode it from Chennai to Kochi via Bangalore, which was close to 900 kilometres. The stretch has good roads and that was the time I realised how it responds and the kind of control it offers to the rider with its lightweight and nimble handling. I am sure that customers who buy this bike will not only ride for a few kilometres but will ride it for long distances as well.
Are you working towards the localisation of the R3?
Not yet. But we will be thinking about it once it starts justifying with decent volumes.
If you bring the MT-09 via CKD route, its price (Rs 10.2 lakh ex-showroom, Delhi) will come down by over Rs 3 lakh, and at that price it has the potential to overpower its competition. What is your outlook on this?
We see that there is a demand for such a product in the market and we have brought it via the CBU route. We are not talking about the CKD process because we have to apply for several mandates and that consumes a lot of time. It’s a government procedure that is required to be followed if you want to assemble big bikes here and I won’t be able to comment further on what stage we are in.
Yamaha’s 5-year plan outlines India as one of the key markets for growth through volumes, which is not possible without focussing on the scooter and commuter bike segments. The Fascino scooter did very well for Yamaha and it is now the bestselling model for the company. However, sales of Ray, Ray Z and Alpha have dropped sharply. Does this bother you?
The Ray scooter models continue to fetch stable sales for us. For November-December 2015, the floods in Chennai affected our suppliers in the vendor park and we had a supply constraint across all models.
The Ray and Ray Z cater to a particular class of buyers, which is very small. Around 70-75 percent of bulk demand comes from the family scooter segment. This means that the bulk sales made in the scooter segment are dependent on a purchase-decision, which is unanimously taken by each member within the family. Also, a family scooter is used by all the members.
A personalised scooter, on the other hand, means that either it will be used by the boy or the girl in the family. That’s where the Ray and Ray Z come. The Alpha is for the family segment. We are very new in this space. It needs to be understood that if a buyer is looking for a me-too product, then he will buy a scooter model that is already a proven option. That’s why we created a sub-segment within scooters in the form of a fashion zone – with the Fascino. It is the most stylish scooter today in its price segment and comes in vibrant colours (that its rivals do not offer). It is a head-turner and buyers love it.
The Fascino, launched in July 2015, sold close to 100,000 units in 2015. In January 2016, we sold close to 18,000 units of this model. We want to see monthly sales of the Fascino in the range of 20,000-25,000 units, beyond which it will go into its own orbit, and it will then continue to grow thereafter.