Yesterday, I went for a scooter ride through one of Toronto's leafier neighbourhoods, through streets with mansions I could never afford. On a quiet Saturday afternoon, I encountered the occasional car, but no other scooter. It was a tranquil ride and I must say I missed the buzz of scooters and motorcycles that exist in so many other cities in the world.
Back at home, as I cruised through articles and websites for news about scooters in those busier cities, I came across yet another story about the competition among scooter manufacturers in India. It seems a day doesn`t go by when there aren`t stories in The Times of India or The Economic Times about some new deal or some new product. No wonder. Recently, a European consultant said that any international maker of two-wheeled vehicles had to have a serious focus on India. It represents the second largest market after China. With 1.22-billion people and just millions of motorcycles and scooters on the roads there`s still lots of room for growth.
Honda Motorcycles and Scooter India (HMSI), with the biggest market share, announced last week that it has reach the 10-million milestone in sales of two-wheelers. But it never rests on its laurels. The company is expanding into ``far-flung towns," to penetrate deeper into the country.
And the Indian company, TVS, is partnering with BMW, hoping to catch up to the gains made by Honda, Baja and Hero.
In the eternal motorcycle/ scooter debate, Indians are leaning more and more toward scooters. The Times of India reported last week that scooter sales were up 34% in May while motorcycles sales only grew 7%. Women riders are credited for that leap. And the paper doesn't ignore the social reasons behind this. I couldn't do their words justice so here's an excerpt from the article:
At its core, more women scooter
drivers criss-crossing the country indicate far greater independent mobility
for women, easily able to drive lightweight vehicles to required destinations.
This highlights two valuable developments - first, the growth of a liberal
mindset across India, with women independently travelling to college, work or
the shops without empty-headed machismo or narrow-minded conservatism barring
their way. Secondly, it shows a social scenario where civic authorities will
have to walk the talk about ensuring decent public safety, essential with more
citizens, male and female, going about their regular tasks. There's also an
economic green light here - a surge in women driving scooters shows the
possibilities of an economy vitalised by strong female participation in all
sectors, from education to employment, entrepreneurship to recreation. In this
light, we appear closer to our East Asian neighbours who have successfully
integrated women into their economies, with women on scooters rushing to big
offices, small businesses, colourful stores or families a common sight across
South Korea, Vietnam and similar nations. That's a joyride that
The Times of India, July 4
So with the stakes high, it's no wonder that companies are looking to popular Bollywood stars to push scooters and no wonder that most of the "ambassadors" for scooters are actresses. The commercials are energetic, sexy and sound like they should all have "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" as their sound tracks. I've gathered some together here. Have fun watching them.
1/Hero MotoCorp's ambassador is Bollywood star, Priyanka Chopra.
2/In an appeal to young women, TVS Motors chose Bollywood star Anushka Sharma for their "Scooty Range" campaign because "she is seen by young women as one who is living her goals of being vivacious, independent and successful."
3/ Actress Kareena Kapoor is the ambassador for Mahindra Two Wheelers. Like the other commercials there's a sense here that women are smarter than the men around them, certainly smarter than the men around them think they are.
4/ And finally a Bollywood male star gets into the action in this beautiful spot for Honda Scooters and Motorcyles India. Celebrity Aksay Kumar does the voice-over for this commercial that shows how Honda products reflect the Indian dream.
They all make me want to go back to India and try out a "Scooty Range."