With India being pummeled recently by a second, brutal wave of COVID-19, the country’s automotive manufacturing sector has likewise been severely impacted. In the case of motorcycle maker Royal Enfield, the resultant retail and production challenges led to a striking 59-percent drop in sales during the month of May, 2021, compared to April, from a total of 48,989 global units to 27,294.
That’s a substantial deficit, but it isn’t all bad news. Year-over-year figures show an increase of 43 percent in May of 2021 when compared to the same month in 2020, when 19,113 units were sold. You can credit the implementation of revolving lockdowns with saving manufacturers in India from a worse fate; during the same period last year, the country was in a full national lockdown and production was at a halt.
Something else that’s saving Royal Enfield from further hardship is its healthy export numbers. While total sales declined significantly from April to May, the export category was an anomaly, showing an increase of 60 percent over the same period. In fact, exports were up 956 percent year-over-year in May—from 684 units to 7,221—and a staggering 1,414 percent during the combined months of April and May when compared to those same months last year, near the onset of the pandemic.
As one would expect, it’s Royal Enfield’s bread-and-butter 350cc motorcycles—the Classic, Bullet, Meteor and Electra—that make up the bulk of global sales (more than 83 percent in May). However, the company’s 350cc-plus model sales pleasantly grew by 190 percent in May of 2021 compared to 2020, thanks in large part to ongoing, steady interest in the Himalayan.
India’s COVID-19 cases showed a steady decline after the second wave’s major surge in early May, but it is unclear how long the country’s retail and production sectors will continue to be affected.