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Old 5th October 2013, 20:18   #1
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Default Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

We have seen the Japanese venturing quite liberally into the two, four and four-plus wheeler segments since the 1980's and 1990's.
They have been very successful in most cases, but for a few flops that can be counted on the fingertips.

For instance, Suzuki formed a joint venture with the TVS group for making 100 cc and later 150 cc two wheelers.They exited from the collaboration about a decade back. Now TVS has, from the scratch designed, tested and launched a three wheeler that is doing well.

Bajaj and Piaggio are also successfully selling their wares in this segment. Bajaj has been doing it since the 1950's (earlier with Piaggio's collaboration).

The moot question is why have the Japanese players stayed away from the three wheeler segment all these years? They have watched our markets very closely. The Japanese have also been present in the South East Asian two wheeler markets since five decades.

The Japanese (Honda) were able to develop the Activa / Dio / Aviator exclusively for our market. They researched the market and found a vacuum in this segment after Bajaj was almost on the brink with their two wheeler business. Honda has revived the segment and Suzuki, Hero (then Hero Honda) and TVS have followed suit though as "Johnnys come Lately".

But the three wheeler segment shows no Japanese interest, as of now.

What could be the reasons?

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 5th October 2013 at 20:20.
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Old 5th October 2013, 21:56   #2
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Default re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Three wheelers as a segment should not even exist. They are unsafe, slow & should not even be allowed on our roads.

It is a good things that the Japs are not entering into this segment.
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Old 5th October 2013, 22:38   #3
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Default re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Japs make four wheelers which are cheaper to buy, use and maintain in moderately comfortable environment and is the main reason and answer to the subject query.

Perhaps in India Three wheelers could soon vanish as indicated by the sheer success of the four wheeled Magic Auto Taxi.
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Old 5th October 2013, 22:39   #4
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Default re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

I agree with Vijit. I have had so many close calls and one in particular where the rickshaw we were travelling in almost toppled. Now imagine the same dangers of a unstable vehicle coupled with a VTEC engine or something in similar
Why compromise on safety when we already have able 4 wheelers to do the job of a three wheeler. Three wheelers may have some advantage such as mileage and short turning radius, but is it worth it?
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Old 5th October 2013, 22:45   #5
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Default re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeev k View Post
Perhaps in India Three wheelers could soon vanish as indicated by the sheer success of the four wheeled Magic Auto Taxi.
Where are they successful? Except in a handful of cities, the Magic is nowhere to be seen. Bangalore is still flooded with newer and newer Bajaj ricks - occasional TVS and Piaggio Ape (the new LPG variant, called "city" or something) are bonuses.
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Old 5th October 2013, 22:55   #6
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Default re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

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Where are they successful? Except in a handful of cities, the Magic is nowhere to be seen. Bangalore is still flooded with newer and newer Bajaj ricks - occasional TVS and Piaggio Ape (the new LPG variant, called "city" or something) are bonuses.
Still majority of rickshaws are Apes and Atuls in many rural towns of Kerala and are not occasional. Area wise preferences would not change overnight but is at the right pace now. The Magic is steadily increasing the numbers. Even in Mangalore area there were many even an year ago.
Even in the three wheeled passenger segment there is decline in 2011 onwards. Take a look at the SIAM figures. The goods segment shows moderate increase though, which is because that segment has phenomenal growth overall which is grabbed by the Tata, Mahindra and Piagio

Last edited by rajeev k : 5th October 2013 at 23:06.
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Old 5th October 2013, 23:01   #7
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Default re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Most (if not all) Japanese companies have taken up a premium positioning in the indian market. Even where they target the lower segments, they still position themselves as a premium product within that segment. Targeting the Commercial vehicle market risks dilution of that image. Other than toyota, Nobody seem to have even touched this segment.

The japanese manufacturers who have expertise making bigger vehicles would rather sell cars, and the ones who don't, might not be too interested in getting into this market where even mature indian players (Mahindra, TVS, Piaggio) have not been able to dent the incumbent seriously
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Old 6th October 2013, 00:04   #8
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Default re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

I am not too sure but I think Toyota manufacturers or supplies parts for the Tuk-Tuks in THailand. Correct me if I am wrong here.
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Old 6th October 2013, 01:23   #9
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Default re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

It is quite simple - 3 wheelers basically will be banned if launched in any developed country because of its intrinsic lack of stability.
No major auto maker will manufacture it since it would be the biggest mistake they would do to their brand image. Supplying parts is one thing, but can you imagine a toyota or honda auto rickshaw? No you can't. They won't as well.
Auto rickshaws are something that spawned out of the need for cheap transport, and will be outlawed at some point of time.
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Old 6th October 2013, 07:09   #10
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Default

Just saw a Mazda T 2000 Three wheeler at this link http://japan

Some more pictures of this Mazda.
Attached Thumbnails
Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?-mazda_hellas_3wheel_pickup.jpg  

Attached Images
   

Last edited by benbsb29 : 11th October 2013 at 07:38. Reason: Merged back-to-back posts.
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Old 7th October 2013, 19:22   #11
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Default Re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by anjan_c2007 View Post
But the three wheeler segment shows no Japanese interest, as of now.
What could be the reasons?
The only reason I see is "BRAND" name and Japanese definitely don't want them to be recognized as 'Auto rickshaw' makers!!

Remember Daihatsu Midget? They too moved to a stable 4-wheeled version and eventually stopped manufacturing 3-wheeler and moved up the ladder.

Daihatsu Midget for your reference.
Pic : Google search
Attached Thumbnails
Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?-1957_daihatsu_midget_01.jpg  

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Old 7th October 2013, 20:38   #12
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Default Re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerHead View Post
The only reason I see is "BRAND" name and Japanese definitely don't want them to be recognized as 'Auto rickshaw' makers!!

Remember Daihatsu Midget? They too moved to a stable 4-wheeled version and eventually stopped manufacturing 3-wheeler and moved up the ladder.

Daihatsu Midget for your reference.
Pic : Google search
Quite true HammerHead. Since they go into the nitty gritty of every venture,where they enter only if its feasible, making three wheelers may have not made business sense to them. After adequate market research, if at all, they may have worried about their brand equity and economics.

We are talking about the Tata Magic, Ace, Mahindra Maxximo, Ashok Leyland Dost (it has a Nissan imprint) and similar models here taking over from three wheelers in our markets,this is quite a late development.The Tata Ace came some five plus years back, followed by a host of other competing models.

The Japanese have been here since 1985 in a big way, venturing into a lot of untapped market areas and niches. The 100 cc bike and scooter markets were untapped. The Italians introduced 125 cc scooters but as these were underpowered, these either perished or were upgraded to 150 cc. But the Kinetic Honda a 100cc, was a winner from DAY 1.

The auto rickshaw market was in the mid 1980's dominated by three players viz. Bajaj, API and Scooters India Ltd. They could have easily entered this growing segment with a fuel efficient engine. But they simply ignored it.

And now they have entered the ultra light truck segment, with the Ashok Leyland Dost. Maruti is also coming out with a two cylinder diesel engined pick-up by 2015.

http://www.autocarindia.com/auto-new...cv-359350.aspx

So there are enough green pastures to graze in this ultra light commercial vehicle segment, whereas the three wheeler segment does not appear to be full of green pastures for them.

Our homegrown TVS has lately ventured in the three wheeler segment. Piaggio is from Italy and has also thrown its hat into the three wheeler ring, though with their crude and noisy APE.

We being a developed economy,will see the three wheelers surviving and even flourishing along with the ultra light commercial vehicles. Though three wheelers are quite unsafe and extremely ductile in the event of an impact, we care the least for safety. We pack 10- 15 passengers like sardines in such three wheelers. The operator makes money, the passengers reach their destinations economically (only if the trip is accident free) and the law enforcers make money by way of bribes.

Three wheelers cannot be written off in our country so soon. I remember when the BS I emission laws were enforced in Delhi, followed soon by the Supreme Court directives to vanquish 15 year plus commercial vehicles, the old, rickety auto rickshaws of Delhi landed in the neighboring districts, where these were perhaps welcomed.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 7th October 2013 at 20:46.
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Old 7th October 2013, 21:14   #13
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Default Re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by anjan_c2007 View Post
...
But the three wheeler segment shows no Japanese interest, as of now.
What could be the reasons?
There isn't a best business case to develop a 3 wheeler. Business case interms of product portfolio and the gaps they wanted to address in the market. Although the gap is very big with TIV ~5lks units, the development will be all new with dedicated power train / product line / network for aftermarket.
Also the operating price of Rs 1.9 to 2lk, with wafer thin margins, why should they try something which though attractive but not of their interest?
Ofcourse they are used to this kind of business in A and B segment cars, but its their bread and butter. So it may be a case that they do not require one more bread and butter :-) .(My two cents ends)
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Old 7th October 2013, 21:39   #14
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Default Re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Interesting topic Anjan. The humble Bajaj Autorickshaw has been playing a pivotal role in the providing a convenient means of public transport to the Indian middle class for decades & sells in healthy number

Yet, even Bajaj themselves did not expect it to survive and ignored its development for several decades....despite the fact that the product has been a cash cow for them. Imagine a 40 year old design of a rudimentary machine with no doors, only 3-wheels and a single cylinder engine selling for 1.5 lakhs !!!

Not even the brand new 21st century designs like TVS King or the Piaggio Ape couldn't unseat it from its throne.

Only recently they have woken up to the realization that something needs to be done before it gets wiped out by a cheaper doorless CNG Nano.

Globally, the 3 wheeler thrived for a couple of decades after the 2nd world way when the 'then-developing' countries of Japan, Italy and Germany needed basic & inexpensive transportation. (mostly for goods and not so much for passengers). As soon as these countries grew more prosperous, they upgraded to safer and more comfortable mini 4-wheelers (like the Suzuki Carry). Additionally, it may have been driven by safety regulations. The Ape is a notable exception and survives in parts of southern Europe as a goods vehicle for low speed movement in extremely tight spaces. (not for passenger transport at speed)

Coming to the Japanese, so far they have been offering products that are already for sale elsewhere in other markets and they are unlikely to go back to doing 3 wheeler specifically for India. Secondly it is a matter of concern that the chaotic traffic conditions in India will lead to incidents of a doorless, seatbeltless 3w flipping & harming the occupants and bringing a bad reputation to the company.


Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerHead View Post
The only reason I see is "BRAND" name and Japanese definitely don't want them to be recognized as 'Auto rickshaw' makers!!
Dont think that's a huge concern. Right now a sethji sitting in the back seat of his Honda Accord will look out of the window to see hordes of Honda branded 100cc motorcycles driven by the masses. In fact, his driver probably comes to work in a Hero Honda.
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Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?-suzuki_carry_1989.jpg  


Last edited by Mpower : 7th October 2013 at 23:20.
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Old 8th October 2013, 15:22   #15
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Default Re: Why are the Japanese not venturing into the 3-Wheeler segment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpower View Post
...Yet, even Bajaj themselves did not expect it to survive and ignored its development for several decades....despite the fact that the product has been a cash cow for them. Imagine a 40 year old design of a rudimentary machine with no doors, only 3-wheels and a single cylinder engine selling for 1.5 lakhs !!!
So its without roof and so further more profits. Is it so?
Agree that depreciation in plant and machinery and design is very less, but what about the BOM cost, conversion cost, dealer ORC, ED, VAT, transportation cost, festival offer,other freebies,etc? The price I have indicated is the higher side and operating price is much lesser than that. If so much was the profit, why not develop a diesel engine for it. As Bajaj is already world No.1 in 3 wheeler segment this should have easily justified the investment. But inorder to save cost it has tried with various suppliers initially, but unfortunately they are yet to have a strong hold in diesel segment.
Infact price is in check for several years and they are trying their best to save margins. The upholstery was initially part of vehicle is now additional and all this measures are to keep the margins.You will not agree, the primary competitor for new auto's are the used ones. And there is good number of auto's for sale every now and then.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpower View Post
...Not even the brand new 21st century designs like TVS King or the Piaggio Ape couldn't unseat it from its throne. ....
Bajaj is not very comfortably holding the first slot. True competitor is Ape and is giving a very tough fight for Bajaj and is just ~5% less than Bajaj. If you consider 3 wheeler goods, Ape is more than twice the Bajaj in market share.And these two players account for ~80% of the sales volume.
TVS has not made any impact in sales and even the numbers are skewed to southern states only.
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