In a country where almost 38 lakh scooters are sold each year, the Honda Activa has reigned supreme for a good part of 14 years now. When it was launched in India in 2000, there was nothing that could actually hamper the sales of this two-wheeler. Backed by good build quality, rugged reliability, restrained Japanese charm, and a peppy yet smooth motor made this the obvious pick for hassle-free commuting. But, fast-forward to 2014, there is now a deluge of scooters from every possible manufacturer in town. Many of the indigenous scooters are so good these days that they make the Activa look a bit archaic in comparison.
Now it may be hard for you to believe, but scooters are not the easiest of machines to design. The designers must strike an equilibrium between aesthetics and sensibility. Scooters are all about practicality with a dash of fun for those times when you feel like being 12 again. But, talking of style and aesthetics made me wonder, is that even important nowadays? The best selling scooter, the Honda Activa, isn’t exactly a style Diva. But we Indians buy a lot of them and there’s nothing wrong about that. That said, these days there are wiser and more well-rounded deals out there.
- The first that pops into my head, is Hero MotoCorp’s Maestro. You get an analog/digital instrument cluster which also houses a trip meter. Plus, there are funky colours to choose from.
- Similarly, TVS’s Jupiter is one good package in itself. It comes with an easy access kick-start, external fuel-filler, LED tail-light, econometer, 12-inch tyres with black alloy wheels and low fuel warning light.
- The Mahindra Gusto on the other hand has an even bigger list of standard features. They include LED pilot lamps, a seat lock and a long contoured seat, easy access near the instrument cluster, a seat height adjuster, a front kick-starter, 12-inch wheels, a smart key with the “find me lights” functions and the Gusto itself also has the guide me lights function. Keep in mind the fact that it costs the same as a regular Activa.
These are just some of the options available to the Indian consumer and they all are a better, tighter package than the Activa. Plus, the Activa’s ride, though not bad, is on par with the Maestro and is definitely nowhere close to being as comfortable as the Jupiter or Gusto. So, why is it that we continue to buy the Honda instead of these Indian scooters? Simply put, it’s the brand image of Honda and like any other product, Indians directly relate Scooter with the Activa. Similar examples would be Photocopying & Xerox.
All this said, all that Indian buyers seem to care about is reliability, practicality, and efficiency. The Activa is a good product; tried, tested and proven. There’s not one reason to not buy the Activa, but in my opinion, there are three.