It might improve in 2020, but we'll see.

India’s still on top of the world in terms of yearly motorcycle sales—but November 2019 marks a full 12-month decline in overall sales within the market. In fact, for the month of November alone, China actually saw more motorcycle sales than India—a feat it last accomplished in December 2018. The reasons for this are several, and there is a possibility that this trend will reverse soon. Let’s dive in, shall we? 

According to New Indian Express, there are two big factors that have likely been impacting new bike sales in the subcontinent: new emissions standards and a big holiday. See, new motorcycles sold in India are expected to comply with the incoming BS-VI emissions standards from April 1, 2020. Currently, manufacturers are complying with the earlier, less restrictive BS-IV standard. Therefore, it’s not unlikely that consumers may be delaying their new bike purchases until more BS-VI-compliant machines are available to choose from. 

Sales delayed for this reason will likely continue to slump for the next few months, but could see a rebound following the introduction of the new standard. However, bikes manufactured to comply with BS-VI standards are also expected to be more expensive, so how expected vehicular price increases will affect sales remains to be seen. 

Another November sales factor to consider is Diwali. The Hindu festival of lights is based around the date of the new moon that occurs in either October or November of each year—which means the dates change. 

For those unfamiliar with this festive season, it’s a popular time to both sell and buy vehicles at good prices in the Indian market. In this way, it’s not unlike end-of-year vehicle sales in the US. Since Diwali occurred in October 2019, that left November without a possible sales boost that it could have used.

According to New Indian Express, every major motorcycle manufacturer in India reported a year-on-year sales decline for November 2019 except for one: Suzuki. Amazingly, Suzuki sold 69,755 bikes in November 2019, which represents a 23.39 percent increase over its 56,531 bikes sold for the same period in 2018. 

Of other major motorcycle manufacturers in the region, TVS posted the most drastic negative change, selling 191,222 bikes in November 2019 as compared to 260,253 in November 2018. Meanwhile, Royal Enfield’s numbers were also negative, but less so than its competition. In November 2019, it posted sales of 60,411 bikes, as compared to 65,744 for November 2018.

Sources: International Council on Clean Transportation, New Indian Express, Money Control, The Hindu Business Line