As yet another new year breaks upon us, and we are done and dusted with our resolutions, there are five specific trends I predict for the Indian two-wheeler industry.
Increased safety standards
This is of paramount importance. Regulators have to bring in far more stringent safety standards covering active features by vehicle manufacturers, innovations in accessories especially helmets and road traffic regulations, particularly in the small towns. Crash test standards must be imposed on three-wheelers of all types and sizes…one cannot have either these tubular lead-acid spewing coffins covering up our roads in the name of ‘electric rickshaws’ or the over-stuffed three-wheeled micro commercial vehicles that pass off as rural mass transport. I envision a two-wheeler helmet with on-visor notifications and warnings being launched by some good Samaritan.
Shared riding solutions multiply
Solutions like Uber Moto, Ola and Baxi will grow by at least 20 times in terms of fleet strength, incorporating both two and three wheelers. The services will spread beyond the metros and benefit both increased mobility as well as sustainable employment. Localised solution providers will also emerge, as well as a few all-women fleets. Manufacturers will have to produce variants of their existing portfolio relevant to such applications, as they will not be restricted to only last-mile connectivity but also long-distance. Mobile apps and mobility will fuse into a seamless operation.
A moto-scooter, finally!
There will be one…for sure. The Indian customer surely deserves a world-class moto-scooter now. Kinetic had launched one years back, pretty ahead of the times. The time is now. Just one global brand has to bring one in and it will start a youth trend. Others will follow. Motorcycles will have a true run for their money.
Focus on the woman rider
There will be more riding groups like Bikerni in different parts of the country. They are needed, both as a sign of empowerment as well as expression. They are needed as a change agent in society, both for ensuring better regulations regarding safety as well as service. In fact, riding schools and federations for the increasing number of women riders will be set up in all major cities. The woman rider will be the customer of focus for the industry. Manufacturers might as well take the initiative to set up clubs and groups to cater to possibly their most loyal and interactive customer segment.
Augmented reality retail arrives
There will be one brand that will take the plunge into using AR to create an immersive retail experience. I really do not expect the existing ones to do so as they are too caught up in the brick and mortar edifices they have created in the name of ‘network’. The pioneer will be a new brand, a new player…not necessarily in the ‘electric’ space, but definitely one who carries no baggage or burden to disrupt the market. I salute that brand, whichever it might be!
And “electric two-wheelers”? Are they not a trend? Well, not really. That was a trend the year gone by. They are reality now. Wishing all of you, your families and dear ones all health, harmony and happiness for the year ahead. Ride hard. Ride safe.