Hubris Must Not Set In: We Still Have a Long Way To Go in the Motorcycle Industry
Several friends and colleagues have forwarded me an article by Srinivas Kantheti, in CNBCTV18 titled “How one Indian industry beat China at manufacturing and creating a global footprint". It is an excellent piece that explains how India’s two-wheeler industry has 'overtaken' that of China, and why a combination of government, people and corporates made it happen. I agree and subscribe to most of what Kantheti writes; yet, there are some facts, figures and realities which need clarification.  
 
In 2019-20, India made more than 21 million two-wheelers (including electric ones) and a tad over 1.13 million three wheelers (including electric). These figures are from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). China manufactured a little over 17.36 million two-and three-wheelers (15.43 two-wheelers, 1.93 million three-wheeled vehicles) during the calendar year 2019, as per data from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). These figures indicate that India has overtaken China.
 
There is another, more important figure though, that needs looking at: China produced 27.07 million electric two-wheelers in 2019! Though these figures include pedal-assisted electric bicycles (with max speed of up to 20 km/hr), most are light electric scooters and 'scooterettes', as well as higher performance motorcycles. 
 
 
With the ban on use of fossil-fuel-powered two-wheelers in most major cities of China, commuters have been forced to switch to cleaner, electric-powered vehicles. Thus, as China has moved to cleaner two-wheelers, India is leading the charge of the unclean ones. The reality is that India remains far behind China, when it comes to the overall count.
 
 
The situation is similar with regard to exports too. Whilst India exported a little over four million two- and three-wheelers during 2019-20 (of which 3.5 million were two-wheeled), China sold over 7.125million units (worth US $4.8 billion) in international markets during 2019 (a figure, which has seen steady decline since 2013, when around 10 million were exported). 
 
 
To these figures, we need to add the export of electric two-wheelers. In 2018, China exported 1.877 million e-bikes, with a total export volume of US $790 million (about 5.23 billion yuan), up 14.6% year-on-year (y-o-y). In 2019, China exported more than 14 million e-bikes of which 3.4 million were to Europe alone–valued at US $ 2.89 Billion! 
 
   
 
Even more importantly though, China exports a massive number of components – in 2013, China exported more than 26 million two-wheeler engines worldwide! 
 
Unfortunately, many of them made their way to India. The numbers though have been coming down, yet India, sadly, imports a significant number of components from China. 
 
 
In fact, most of India’s electric two- and three-wheeler industry is China-based, with most of the start-ups making and selling essentially China-sourced vehicles, which have been superficially 're-clothed'. 
 
Whereas, China buys almost nothing from India.
 
Historically, the Indian governments, sometimes through good planning, sometimes thanks to exigencies, have managed to provide enough protection to the budding Indian two-wheeler industry. All this happened over time, and then there was the right dose of competition to make the Indian motorcycle industry a 'world class' act. 
 
No doubt, credit should also go to the India’s bike industry, its captains, engineers and designers for being both, progressive and aggressive. This is why Europe’s two leading motorcycle manufacturers, KTM and BMW, have partnered with Indian giants Bajaj and TVS, with Bajaj now controlling 49% of KTM. This is also why English motorcycle magazines are happy that venerable British bike brands, BSA and Norton are in the hands of Indian giants, Mahindra and TVS. (China too has been on a buying spree, having acquired famous Italian marques Benelli, Moto Morini and several others).  
 
 
Yet, before we go around patting our collective backs, we must realise that the future is electric and not fossil-fuelled and that the current Indian government’s moves on this front has opened an extremely wide door to the Chinese. 
 
 
The government’s policy on automotive electrification has created a situation where a fully indigenous effort does not have the slightest chance of making it in the Indian marketplace, let alone international. 
 
Thus, before hubris sets in, it is time the government sat with industry and worked out a mutually beneficial strategic plan, if we really want to become the world’s largest manufacturer of (all) powered two-wheelers.     
 
(Author of several automotive books, founder editor of many leading auto mags, Gautam Sen has also consulted with most of the Indian auto majors. He has also worked with several leading car designers such as Gérard Godfroy, Tom Tjaarda and Marcello Gandini, among others)
 
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    COMMENTS

    prime

    5 months ago

    Well-written. Electric is the only future. We cannot depend only on the old manufacturers to get us there - they have too much to lose and will continue to protect their existing cash cows. Policy must be set to aggressively help the newcomers to rise. The next three years are the years of automotive industry disruption. We can either sink or swim.

    m.prabhu.shankar

    5 months ago

    Superb

    rajoluramam

    5 months ago

    Though we are far behind China in manufacturing 2 and 3 wheelers industry, it is not a bad show if one remembers our old " vespa, bajaj, Lambretta, Ambassador and Fiat cars". People waiting for years together to purchase lamretta, the great vespa. It is mind boggling about the premium people were paying to purchase vespa scooter and Bajaj scooter. It was a tamasha going on to purchase these vehicles through foreign exchange
    The improvement in production, quality, improving the models etc is commendable in a short period.
    Let us not compare with China and dishearten ourselves.

    mahesh.kalkar

    5 months ago

    Great article. As long as our bureaucracy is not reformed with accountability to its functioning, we will remain where we are. That's it. I have a copy of MoD's letter dated 5.6.20, not related to this subject. But it exemplifies bureaucratic mentality. How can it say "No" to Good Morning! Period.

    kvrao42004

    5 months ago

    An excellent piece. Never knew the mass of data. A wake up call for our auto giants coming from an expert in Gautam Sen.

    Ramesh Popat

    5 months ago

    tortoise will overtake rabbit in the years to come, hopefully.

    kiranshah254

    5 months ago

    One more Excellent article from Gautam Sen. A lot of awakening of Indian souls is necessary.

    How COVID-19 Affected Indian Wedding Industry
    The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on almost every industry in the world and the Indian Wedding Industry, estimated around $50 billion, has now come to a halt. However, industry experts believe that Indian weddings will return with spike in growth in the coming years and it will continue to be bigger once the virus threat is down to be negligible.
     
    IANSlife spoke to Vikaas Gutgutia, Founder and Managing Director, Ferns N Petals, who ventured into the luxury wedding venues business in 2003, to know the impact of the lockdown on the Indian Wedding Industry and the wedding trends in post COVID era. Excerpts:
     
    What impact the lockdown has had on the wedding industry and FNP Gardens?
     
    Gutgutia: All the summer and spring wedding at our 11 venues under FNP Gardens are either postponed or cancelled. Many couples have chosen to postpone their weddings to the winter season of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, whereas few who have cancelled the bigger celebration are now opting for an intimate wedding. Because of these cancellations, all the associated units such as caterers, designers, make-up artists, wedding vendors or planners have been affected to the core. We see this year, the revenue continues to stay below expectations. But there is no question Indian weddings will return with spike in growth in the coming years. 
     
    How do you see the wedding scene in the country post this pandemic era?
     
    Gutgutia: Indian wedding market is ever-growing and has multiplied multifold in the past few years. However, due to this ongoing pandemic, things may change but wedding functions will never stop in India and we will come back stronger. Since, social distancing is the need of the hour, we are expecting a behavioral shift towards choosing the wedding venues. People will either opt for bigger space so that sufficient distancing can be maintained or they will prefer a smaller banquet which can accommodate only immediate family members.
     
    Do you think the concept of a fat Indian wedding is passe now?
     
    Gutgutia: While we have a collective history of extravaganza grand affairs, never thought the world will come to a standstill. Weddings has always been considered the most auspicious event in India and no expenses or thoughts were ever spared by people to turn it into a Big Fat Indian Wedding. Now weddings will be more mindful and conscious, but it will continue to be bigger once the virus threat is down to be negligible. Some of the clients we are getting in pandemic are ready to wait for some time but they want their event to be opulent, just the way they desired. There will be sustainable measures and mindful execution in terms of venue selection, design, seating arrangements etc. adhering to the social distancing norms to execute the event smoothly and safely. This clearly shows big fat Indian weddings are here to stay!
     
    Moving ahead, what role sustainability has to play as far as wedding is concerned?
     
    Gutgutia: This year has made us realize, that it's high time that we give more priority to sustainability. Being, the biggest floral chain in India, we have always been closer to the elements of nature and now we will also implement them in our weddings. All the arrangements, be it décor, catering, lighting and so on will be done, minding the rules of sustainability. We are also promoting day weddings to support the idea of saving energy. On top of it, we are also planning to add eco-friendly elements to beautify the spaces for weddings. Therefore, we are trying to go on a sustainable path for weddings. 
     
    What trends do you see in the wedding scene in India?
     
    Gutgutia: As we are seeing, couples are swapping their grand wedding celebration with small gathering or intimate wedding affair, so the ‘New Normal' for celebrating weddings in pandemic is different. Though we are sure grand celebrations will be back after normalcy in the situation. We are looking at smaller weddings with more personalization in arrangements. Strict precautions will become a major part while organizing mass gatherings. People would opt for open-air or outdoor spaces while making the venue selection, to have plenty of space that will help to maintain physical distancing as compared to an indoor venue. Furthermore, a well-thought-out seating arrangement with bigger tables will be counted as essential to maintain social distancing.
     
    What changes are you adopting to cope up with the changing trends?
     
    Gutgutia: We would make all the required arrangements as per the need of the hour. Be it the setup of our venues, installing sanitizing tunnels, tweaking the buffet style and so on... everything will be done in accordance with the need of the hour. There will be emphasize on top-notch hygiene standards as well as ensure contactless services.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    yerramr

    5 months ago

    Strange to find wedding as an industry. One of the good things done by this virus is curtailing lavish weddings and making the latter as a pious relationship for life. Most now perform in temples with limited numbers from both families attending and blessing the couple. Lot of food that used to be wasted has also been saved.

    Is shooting from home the new normal? TV actors think so
    Even though the Maharashtra government has considered requests from the film and TV industries to resume work safely after the lockdown, there's still the COVID-19 scare. So should shooting from home be the new way of functioning? TV actors and show makers weigh in their options.
     
    Actress Donal Bisht is already getting calls for ads and serials.
     
    "We are no longer required to go to different places for look tests. We do it via our mobile phones due to the situation outside. It is not safe and it is also the best way to keep things going. Entertainment can never stop. People are shooting for ads at their homes only. Even in TV shows as you can see the actors are making videos and channels were putting it on-air. And now we have to get used to it," she told IANS.
     
    Actress Jasmin Bhasin also thinks it is a good effort. "We can do nothing about it, we have to just face the situation. And if we are able to entertain the audience and if it spreads any kind of positivity, then it's good."
     
    Actress Sara Khan thinks it's really interesting how the current situation has opened up people's minds to infinite possibilities. "The production team undoubtedly has amazing technicians and I'm actually really excited to see the outcome. I know that it may not be as easy as one has to create the entire set-up at home, but it surely is really intriguing."
     
    If not a daily soap, actress Rashami Desai did shoot a chat show during the lockdown.
     
    "New changes will bring in new choices in life. I believe in changes. And even after sitting at home, we are trying to entertain our audiences. The actors and producers are putting so much into it. Working from home is not easy, but you know what? You can make a film with an iPhone. But here you have to become the director and the technician, so there's when the problem comes in. But I would say it is a wonderful experience," she said.
     
    Writer Sumrit Shahi also worked on a digital show, "Bhalla Calling Bhalla", which was shot at home. 
     
    "We have found new dynamic ways of taking forward visual storytelling. I had written a series called 'Bhalla Calling Bhalla' which was shot with actors at their homes, with the director on Zoom call. Writing for it was also challenging because of lack of physical spaces. But it was also exciting because you are trying to create something new. So it's an enjoyable but challenging process," he told IANS. 
     
    Talking about challenges, Asit Kumarr Modi, creator of the hit show "Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah", said that shooting a daily soap has a system.
     
    "We are not sure how far it is possible to shoot a daily soap from home. If there are fun videos or even weekly shows, it's understandable. But storytelling, shooting, make-up, proper lighting...I am not sure," he said. 
     
    He is open to new ideas though. 
     
    "We have been working in one style only, if we need to work now we need to think more," he said. 
     
    Producer Rajan Shahi, known for popular dramas "Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai" and "Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke", sees shooting at home a good trend, but sadly not for TV serials. 
     
    "I have seen a lot of creative people who have made very interesting videos. It's a very good way to communicate with the audience but for a daily soap, actors to shoot daily for 20 minutes, will get very difficult," he said. 
     
    If not back-to-back episodes, there were attempts made by show creators to give content to the audience during lockdown. 
     
    "Shooting from home is the new normal in the present times but there are a lot of limitations in terms of overall experience and engagement. While we are finding ways to do it creatively and produce content remotely, a lot of elements are being compromised. The actors are using their homes as makeshift sets to shoot content which is completely different from the show's original backdrop. For our shows 'Naati Pinky', 'Choti Sarrdaarni', and 'Shakti.. Astitva Ke Ehsaas Kii', we shot sequences in the form of snippets to link it back to the shows' original storyline which worked well. But detailing the storyline requires a larger set up which is a challenge in the present scenario," said Manisha Sharma, chief content officer, Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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