Indian motorcycle makers try to offload stock ahead of incoming emissions standards

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Indian makers of motorcycles and scooters have slashed prices in a last-ditch effort to offload unsold stock before new emissions standards come into force on Saturday.

The country’s supreme court ruled on Wednesday that all vehicles sold anywhere in the country from April 1 must comply with the new standards, aimed at reducing automotive emissions that have helped make Indian cities among the world’s most polluted. This frustrated a legal challenge from the industry, which had asked for an extra year to sell unsold stock, estimated at about 800,000 vehicles.

Most of these are two-wheeled, and some of the biggest makers have unveiled last-minute promotions aimed at helping dealers to shift older stock that does not comply with the new rules, which will be equivalent to European standards.

Dealers for Hero MotoCorp, the market leader by volume, are offering discounts of up to Rs12,500 ($193) on the unsold vehicles, while third-ranked TVS Motors is advertising discounts of up to Rs20,150 in its one-day sale. But Royal Enfield, whose sales of relatively upmarket motorcycles place it sixth in the market by volume, said its sales channel had no non-compliant inventory to offload, having made its production compliant with the new standards earlier than its competitors.

Gulshan Ahuja, secretary general of India’s Federation of Automobile Dealers, said this amounted to a “distressed sale” situation, with customers seeking to take advantage by demanding further discounts and free products or services. His organisation was now in talks with the manufacturers about the disposal of the unsold vehicles, he added, warning that any effort to export them would face “a lot of technical, financial and logistical issues”.

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