Japanese two-wheeler major Yamaha has said that complete closure of economic activities should have been reviewed carefully in a large country like India and a proper road map should have been planned to handle the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The company, which has three plants in the country, said saving human lives is the top priority for any nation but economic activities should not be shut completely.
"We must remember that India is one of the world's largest economy and is also the world's largest two-wheeler market. Complete closure of economic activities in this market as well as other markets in the world has led to a massive depression, the worst since Great Depression in 1920s. The recovery period from such depression will take a long time," Yamaha Motor India Chairman Motofumi Shitara told in an interview.
A nationwide lockdown was imposed in the country on March 25 in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown is still in force but with many relaxations, helping industries to resume operations partially.
He further said, "I would say the decision to shut down the economic activity completely should have been reviewed carefully and a proper road map should have been planned to handle the crisis which is not only affecting the businesses but the lives of each and every individual involved with it."
Shitara said that with chances of coronavirus never going away, people should be encouraged to work with effective safety precautions in place. "As per the WHO, COVID-19 may never go away. Concerns are growing about a second wave of infections. And perhaps a third. In such a situation, we may have to learn to live with coronavirus and everyone should start thinking in this direction," he added.
Shitara said that while lockdown has certainly helped contain the pandemic but it would be difficult to assess the complete picture whether it has been a complete success.
"We are observing that despite the continued lockdown, the states have witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases in the past few weeks," he noted.
Last week, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra had mooted moving away from the term "lockdown", saying it needs to have a defined tenure.
He had stated that lockdown extensions are not just economically disastrous but also create another medical crisis due to its psychological effects.
When asked to comment on the sales outlook for the two-wheeler industry, Shitara said the current financial year will continue with stifled sales volume owing to low demand due to the prolonged lockdown, disruption in manufacturing operations and supply chain as well as stigma attached to social distancing.
"However, the demand is expected to gradually grow from the next fiscal although the total sales volume for the year 2020 will remain the lowest in a decade," he noted.
Shitara said that initiatives like reduction in GST rates on two wheelers would help in triggering demand to some extent.
He, however, added that there is some ray of hope for the two wheeler industry with various surveys predicting a shift towards personal mobility in the post lockdown period.
"Due to aversion from shared or public mobility, it is predicted that demand for personal mobility can be higher," Shitara said.