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Yamaha turns to India to make up for global slowdown in demand
[Image: AVN_JOHN_156531f.jpg]

Japanese two-wheeler major Yamaha today said it aims to enhance India’s share in its global sales to 10 per cent within the next 3-4 years, after slowing demand worldwide caused the company to post a net loss of 216.15 billion yen (about Rs. 11,678 crore) in 2009.

Yamaha sold about 58.5 lakh units globally last year, but is a marginal player in the 94 lakh units Indian two-wheeler market. It sold just 2.2 lakh units in India in 2009, but now aims to sell 10 lakh units in the next 3-4 years.

To achieve this objective, it plans to invest more money on launching new models and expanding its sales network. As part of the move, the firm’s wholly-owned subsidiary, India Yamaha Motor, today launched three commuter segment bikes, with a price tag of Rs. 47,000 - Rs. 52,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi).

“Last year, the motorcycle market was down worldwide and demand dropped 20-30 per cent, mainly due to the U.S. Yamaha is now concentrating on the Asian market for growth... India is the most important market for us,” Yamaha Motor Co Director and Managing Executive Officer (Motorcycle Business Operations) Yoshiteru Takahashi said.

Besides India, the company is witnessing growth in other Asian nations such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and the Philippines, he added.

Yamaha had posted a net loss of 216.15 billion yen last year against a net income of 1.85 billion yen in 2008. Its net sales also declined by 450.24 billion yen from the previous year to 1,153.64 billion yen in 2009.

“The Indian market will grow more and we will concentrate the motorcycle segment. We are planning to invest more here for future models, including production of scooters,” Mr. Takahashi said, adding that the company would look at India and China for low-cost production.

India Yamaha Motor Chief Executive Officer and MD Yukimine Tsuji said the company had earmarked a Rs 800 crore investment for its Indian operations three years ago, out of which Rs. 600 crore has already been put in and the remaining will be utilised in the coming years.

Elaborating on the company’s sales plans, Tsuji said: “Our target is to sell one million bikes per annum in the next 3-4 years. If we can achieve that, we will contribute 10 per cent of our global sales then.”

The newly launched motorcycles - SZ, SZ-X and YBR125 - were unveiled here by Bollywood actor and Yamaha brand ambassador John Abraham. The SZ and SZ-X are powered by 153-cc engines, while the YBR125 will sport a 123-cc engine.

“This year we are expecting to sell a total of 4.1 lakh units, including 2.8 lakh units in the domestic market. Next year, our aim is to sell 4.9 lakh units,” he added.

The company’s two facilities in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have a combined production capacity of 6 lakh units a year and it sells the products through 1,000 outlets, which will be ramped up to 2,000 sales points in the next 3-4 years.

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