ARUN SIDDHARTH is Vice President – Marketing (Motorcycles) at TVS Motor Company
Nilesh Kamat is a delivery boy at a leading food tech start-up in Mumbai and earns over Rs 15,000 per month, plus additional perks. Not long ago, he was unemployed in a small town in Maharashtra but today is capable of supporting his family, back home. He credits this turn of fortune to his ability to be mobile in a city. Yes, one of the key enablers for him to land a job was his two-wheeler! The humble two-wheeler, which is perceived as a symbol of mobility, is now emerging as an effective contributor to the economic development, while continuing to serve its original purpose.
There are ample industry studies that establish a clear connection between improved household incomes and growth of two-wheeler sales. In fact, if the estimates are anything to go by, income of two-wheeler owning households has increased more than three times between FY14 and FY16. Regardless of the source of income, two-wheeler owning households earn an average annual income of Rs 84,579 as compared to non-vehicle owning households that earn around Rs 21,745. The automobile industry, particularly the two-wheeler segment, which is a huge beneficiary of the growth in rural consumption, is therefore poised to further consolidate India’s position as the second-largest two-wheeler market in the world.
With increased mobility of a household, there has been a simultaneous uptake in the levels of economic activities, which ultimately contribute to the overall well-being of the individuals and their families. The future is robust, considering the low two-wheeler penetration in India, and increasing demand will continue to emerge from rural and semi-urban areas. Also with the enhanced infrastructure focus and urbanisation, wherein public transport is yet to scale in a commensurate fashion, two-wheelers are the mode of commute for millions, offering them greater access to economic activities and opportunities.
THE BIG LEAP
Two-wheelers are definitely at the forefront of a revolution that promises to bridge the urban-rural gap, the gender-gap and at the same time enable inclusive growth and well-being. Today, two-wheelers help blur the gender lines by providing equal opportunity to women in terms of mobility for pursuing education, jobs and in turn enabling economic freedom. Not only basic mobility needs, two-wheelers are empowering women to discover their passion for riding and providing the choice to achieve more.
In the context of the ‘Indian growth story’, it is, therefore, quite clear that two-wheelers are not only drivers of mobility but a symbol of inclusive economic growth as people can avail better economic opportunities and benefit from value creation activities, by saving on time and effort. Two-wheeler manufacturer companies, government bodies and other stakeholders, hence, need to come together to encourage two-wheeler ownership as an alternative tool for enabling economic prosperity in the country.
How India Goes To Work
Few key initiatives that can help in this movement include the following:
:: Focus on innovation, not competition: Companies need to focus on innovation, move up the value chain and create superior products rather than competition-focused strategies. The two-wheeler industry is a key driver of the Government’s Make in India initiative and can contribute significantly with increased focus on R&D and innovation. This will help democratising personal mobility, boost productivity, enable road safety and of course, the sheer joy of riding.
:: Simplifying access to consumers: China is the largest national market of two-wheelers, followed by Indonesia and India. In order to help India emerge at the top, companies should focus on localisation and invest in newer and greener technologies that would not only enhance efficiency of the vehicles but also bring down the overall costs of two-wheelers, thus making it more affordable and accessible for consumers.
:: Increased investments in infrastructure and PPP: In order to encourage greater adoption of two-wheelers, one of the most crucial action points is to develop the urban-rural transport infrastructure. There is a need for road infrastructure, improvement measures like new road alignments, a provision of service roads, by-passes, intersection improvements, construction & repair of footpaths & roads, removal of encroachments and good surface drainage. Dedicated investments and partnerships between government, companies and industry bodies such as SIAM can work hand-in-hand to promote the usage of two-wheelers and improve road and transport infrastructure.
:: Leverage technology to tackle road safety challenge: Integrating modern, future-ready technology such as accident sensors, vehicular navigation and communication aids with traditional systems can help tackle menacing challenges of road-safety of two-wheeler riders. This will further encourage consumers, both male and female, to ride and consequently purchase two-wheelers, thereby bolstering inclusive economic growth of the country.
In our vision of a progressive, smarter, connected India, the two-wheeler can emerge as a key contributor for socio-economic and gender parity progress.