01 Mar 2007
Honda Siel Cars India (HSCI) has launched the all-new, third-generation CR-V which it says will “redefine the SUV segment and change the way SUVs are driven and viewed”. The new CR-V is available with a petrol engine option only. Masahiro Takedagawa, president and CEO, HSCI, said that the lack of a diesel option would have little impact on sales. “We expect sales to be in the region of 200 to 250 units a month. We are confident it will sustain our leadership position in the premium SUVs segment,” he said.
The lack of a diesel option was not a big issue with the outgoing CR-V. The moot point is: could Honda have sold more units had it offered a diesel option, like it does in Europe. Takedagawa chose to underplay the issue. “We are not volume-oriented but customer-oriented. We believe that there is no advantage to be gained by offering the diesel option in North America, Japan and India,” he said.
Worldwide, Honda’s strategy has been to offer the diesel option in the bigger – 3-litre and above – engines and the hybrid option in the smaller – 2-litre and below – engine capacities. Also, the lack of the diesel does not seem to have adversely affected the prospects of either the City or the newly launched Civic. The Civic has notched up sales of 10,000 units in the three months since its launch, and the City does 2,500 units a month.
The new CR-V comes at a higher price tag due to the increase in duties on CBUs, and the newer technologies that have gone into it. It is targeted at the upwardly mobile 35-40 year old consumer. “It is meant for the tech-savvy, well-travelled, adventurous Indian,” Takedagawa said.
Although automatics are not much preferred in India, the CR-V is available in both manual and automatic options. Among Honda buyers, only 5 percent of customers have opted for the CVT option in the City. But the Civic may have turned the tide for automatics where it accounts for 40 percent of all sales. Takedagawa expects a similar sales split with the CR-V as well.
The CR-V was introduced in India in July, 2003. The second-generation CR-V followed in 2004. The new model, with several aesthetic enhancements, was also made available in manual transmission, and it strengthened HSCI’s leadership in the SUV segment. A total of 5,547 CR-Vs have been sold in the country.