MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY BOUND TO FLOURISH

SHAMSUL GHANI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Nov 15 - 21, 20
10

Government failure to provide to the masses a cheap, safe, and organised public transport system has given a stimulus to the motorcycle industry of Pakistan. The industry has grown more by compulsion than by industrial logic. Excessive use of personal transport results in traffic congestion, pollution, and wasteful energy consumption. Developed nations avoid these problems by providing an organised, well regulated and easily affordable mass transport system to their citizens. This not only relieves pressure on resource utilisation but also improves the quality of life. When seen in this perspective, Pakistan's transport system portrays an unseemly picture of chaos, human degradation, and perverted civic sense.

The responsibility squarely falls on the governing bodies who have allowed corruption and mafia-rule to destabilise public transport system to the point of irreparability. Gossip has it that hefty sums of money are paid to the authorities by the transport mafia to impose/extend the ban on pillion riding. An economically downtrodden and socially depraved nation can hardly be expected to take any more. If public transport system is not improved, no matter what the resource position is, it is difficult to make headways to economic prosperity.

TABLE-1: MOTORCYCLES' PRODUCTION AND MARKET SHARES

COMPANY/BRAND 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 MKT. SHARE%
Honda 360561 331621 452791 349525 483028 65.5
Yamaha 74423 56282 64254 66190 120788 16.4
Suzuki 16954 27309 33780 14592 18550 2.4
Sohrab 14804 7514 6073 6966 7044 0.9
Sohrab (Tri-wheeler) 2166 2817 1972 1732 3813 0.5
Qingqi (2&3 wheeler) 17198 15926 26831 10616 15580 2.1
Hero 34018 25798 22519 21038 35010 4.9
Ravi - - 23032 18243 22961 3.2
Sazgar (Tri-wheeler) - - 9779 4690 10863 1.4
Habib - - 19562 15462 19234 2.7
Total Production 520124 467267 660593 509054 736861 -
Total Sales 516640 467353 662573 507924 737259 100

The demand for motorbikes is guided by negative factors, the messy public transport system being the dominating one. The ever-deteriorating and disorganised public transport system has awakened the masses to the need of owning personal transport means, even at the cost of food, clothing, and shelter. Till 2007, an easy access to consumer credit drove the herds of masses to the doorstep of banks and financial institutions. As a result, the auto industry went into the boom cycle. This brought about a positive social change in the society. That era was criticised by the economic pundits for being unsustainable, consumption-based growth era. They might be feeling relieved to see their prophecy come true. But, this relief is not genuine. It was not the consumption-led-growth theory that has failed, rather it was the inefficiency and hollowness of political and economic systems that led the industry to an uncalled for recession; the negative contribution of the financial global meltdown notwithstanding. The potential of the industry - with its reliance on domestic market - is still intact. Given the state of public transport system and a high rate of population growth, the motorbike industry's growth is guaranteed.

The high production cost, lack of capital formation, high tariff structure for imported units and manufacturers' greed for higher profits turn the indigenous auto production into a product that could be sold only in the domestic market. China exports about 40 percent of its motorbike production. Thailand exports about 28 percent of its production. India produces 7.7 million units of motor bikes annually out of which seven percent are exported. Pakistan produces around 750,000 units annually and is able to export just one percent of it or even less. Pakistan's share in the $600 billion world auto market is $50 million only. One single manufacturer, Honda, dominates the domestic motorbike market. This scenario rules out the possibility of a fare and fierce competition that results in low prices for the consumers. Since auto industry could well be described as an assembler industry, the depreciating rupee deals a severe blow to the middle and lower middle class consumers as the cartelised producers of motorcycles increase their prices at will on the pretext of high cost of imported parts.

The forward and backward linkages of motorbike industry are deep and varied. On backward side, metals, rubber, paint, glass, plastic, electrical, and magnetic equipment etc go into the production process. The shift in demand for motorbikes is transmitted to the link industries impacting their production volume and prices. On the forward side, linkages such as distribution channels, logistics, warehousing, advertising, insurance and finance etc play an important role in shifting the product from the factory to the market and then to the customer. Production and sale of 750,000 units involves the major segments of economy directly or indirectly.

A study by the Competitiveness Support Fund carried out in 2006 provided notable projections (Table-2) of demand for new motorcycles.

TABLE-2

YEAR PROJECTED PER CAPITA
INCOME IN US DOLLARS
PROJECTED POPULATION
(000'S)
PROJECTED POPULATION
PER NEW MOTORCYCLE
TOTAL ANNUAL
DEMAND UNITS
2006-07 966 159573 179 890000
2007-08 1100 162924 154 1050000
2008-09 1255 166.345 132 1250000
2009-10 1430 169839 113 1500000
2010-11 1645 173405 97 1780000

The wide variations in the CSF projected and actual data can be attributed to the global recessionary jolts and domestic political upheaval. Presently one out of 230 persons has the resources to purchase a new motorbike. This purchase too is not voluntary. Rather it is forced by poor public transport system. With the taming of inflation, free flow of credit under a low policy rate regime and further deterioration in the public transport system, the motorbike industry is bound to flourish.