Bajaj Auto set for a rough ride as sales skid further

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Bajaj India – the two-wheeler maker that ruled Indian roads in the not-too-distant past, may face a rough ride with the December sales figures indicating that it has been pushed to the fourth position by its rivals. Bajaj was number two in two-wheeler sales, behind market leader Hero Honda till October last year. In November, it was pushed to the third spot by Honda , a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan’s Honda Motor, and now TVS Motors has nudged past it to occupy the third slot.

After losing the top position to Hero Honda in 2001, Bajaj Auto has slipped further in terms of domestic sales. Bajaj, which was the undisputed leader of the regulated market for decades, has been losing numbers over the past few months. It managed to sell only 62,043 units last month, slipping by a massive 55% from December 2007. Hero Honda was the run-away leader with 2.09 lakh units sold in December. HMSI, backed by a growing demand for scooters, saw its sales grow by 29% to 87,164 units, while TVS that sold 72,355 units bagged the third position.

Bajaj had been losing market share for the past few months, as sales of motorcycles remained flat at 43 lakh units in the first nine months of the fiscal. While other players maintained their market share, Bajaj Auto sales plummeted 22% to 10.35 lakh units during the period. In September, its sales were down 3% in the domestic market. Its sales dropped by 50% in October and 53% in November. Bajaj Auto CEO S Shridhar was not available for comments. The company officials said that it has rationalised the inventories with dealers, reducing dispatches from the factory.

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