Scooter boom: Young women find gusto on India's roads
By Aradhana Aravindan
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - 'Plush pink' and 'burgundy bliss' scooters are the new buzz on India's roads, even as the rest of the autos market is sputtering amid an economic slowdown.
The scooters go by names such as "Pleasure", but marketing aside, this new fleet of women-friendly bikes reflects a deeper change in attitude and society in India, and has captured the attention of foreign manufacturers such as Japan's Honda Motor Co Ltd and Yamaha Motor.
Young, well-heeled and independent-minded women, who are also conscious of the perils of using public transport, are helping to propel a boom in sales of scooters.
The rising popularity of the scooter comes at a time of nationwide protests against the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in India. In one case, a young female student died after she was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi.
Weighing convenience as well as safety, some young women, and their parents, see the scooter as the best solution for commuting to work, going to college or simply going out to meet friends.
Scooter sales were up nearly 20 percent in the nine months through December, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers data, easily outpacing the 2.5 percent sales growth of full-size motorcycles. Sales of cars, trucks and buses all fell.
Still, scooters accounted for only 20 percent of India's 14 million-unit two-wheeler market in the last financial year. Two wheelers are the most common mode of transport for millions of middle-class Indians.
Both Honda and Yamaha have identified the growth potential in scooters, and are building models designed for women and adding new plants to keep up with demand. Continued...