You win some, you lose some

A news item that caught my attention and surprised me was that in Q2 ended 30/9:2022, Honda has overtaken its erstwhile JV partner Hero Motors by selling more number of two wheelers. Of course, this can be sliced and diced further, which for me is a mere conjecture at this stage for want of further details. My guess is:

(1) Hero must have sold larger number of bikes than Honda, but Honda would have overtaken it given the combined numbers of bikes and scooters. In scooters, Honda has, for years, ruled the market with Activa.

(2) Hero would be continuing to uphold its position as the world’s largest two wheeler company, given its sizeable export market. 

However, there’s another way of looking at it. It’s a multinational giant beating a homegrown venture in its own backyard. Of course, I do not subscribe to this rather coloured view. When we talk of global economy, it means removal of all barriers and consumers’ right to access the best at the most competitive pricing. When our Sensex has so much dependence on inflows from foreign investors and when we invite behemoths like Apple to make India their manufacturing hub, then we cannot be talking of protectionism of any form to domestic companies. 

Also, while one does feel for Hero, which so far has managed the show quite well without Honda, we should not forget that in the passenger car segment, number two position occupied by Hyundai is being seriously challenged by Tata Motors and M&M. In any case, these Indian companies are already ahead of giants like Honda and Toyota. During my recent visit to Johannesburg, it gladdened my heart to see Mahindra’s vehicles competing with world’s leading brand and doing reasonably well. 

To sum up, you win some you lose some, but it’s important to maintain level playing field. Companies should continue to invest in technology and product innovation and not make the mistake for taking consumers for granted. 

Knowing the marketing muscle of Hero, I will not be surprised if the rank order changes once again in Hero’s favour in one of the coming quarters! 

All the best Hero! All the best free market! 

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