Honda targets top slot in India by 2015-16
In an attempt to bridge the gap in the 100-110cc segment where its Dream Yuga has been creating waves with sales of 300,000 units within a year of its launch, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) plans to introduce 2-3 new models in the near future. This will help beef up its market share in the mass motorcycle market where Hero MotoCorp, its erstwhile joint venture partner, holds a 70 percent market share in the sub-125cc category.
“Two to three models are required at the entry level,” says Shinji Aoyama, former HMSI head and now operating officer for Honda’s motorcycle business, Japan, on the sidelines of the launch of its new 150cc CB Trigger bike in Manesar on March 11.
Honda has already made known its plan to launch a new model every quarter up to March 2014 to stave off competition. It has also opened its new technology centre at Manesar earlier this year to boost the localisation programme for products, parts and materials.
Now HMSI is gunning for the No. 1 position by 2015-2016, five years ahead of its targeted 2020 vision of attaining the top slot in India, overtaking Hero MotoCorp with whom it split two years ago. Honda is currently No. 2 after overtaking Bajaj Auto in the current financial year in domestic sales. HMSI held the fourth ranking three years ago and has since leapfrogged to second position.
In line with this growth, HMSI expects to close sales in 2012-13 at 27.5 lakh units, up from the earlier 21 lakh last fiscal. Between April-February 2012-13, HMSI sales stood at 25,02.164 units, growing 33 percent compared to Hero MotoCorp that maintains its lead with sales of around 54.61 lakh units. The size of the two-wheeler industry is pegged at 14,541,614 units, growing at just 3.85 percent. For HMSI, motorcycles contributed 11,71,266 units while scooters were pegged at 13,30,898 units, garnering a 17 percent market share till February 2013.
The latest addition to the range includes the 150cc air-cooled four-stroke spark-ignition-engined CB Trigger. Bookings begin in April-end and deliveries from May. It will be available in three variants of standard, deluxe and CBS and will deliver fuel economy of 60kpl. HMSI already has the CB Unicorn and the premium CBR150R in this category. The CB Trigger replaces the CB Unicorn Dazzler, targeting youth in the 18-24-year age group. An advanced technology in the form of the Combi brake system in this bike is a claimed first in the segment that will enable easy braking with a 32 percent reduced braking distance compared to conventional braking.
“The CB Trigger will help Honda to increase its penetration in the motorcycle segment beyond 50 percent with sales of 100,000 units in 2013-14. The new model will also help further strengthen our product portfolio in the 150 cc motorcycle segment," said Keita Muramatsu, president and CEO of HMSI. The company is targeting sales of 39.3 lakh units in 2013-14 with its third plant at Narsapuram in Karnataka to go on stream in three months' time, taking total production to 4 million units from 2.8 million units at present.
Among the larger bike portfolio, another new motorcycle that could figure in the future plans of HMSI will likely be the 500cc-engined bike for which Honda has kicked off production in Thailand. Aoyama says that it sees demand in that region while in India , it does not visualise any immediate potential. “We are always considering the possibility of when and how but so far there is no plan.”
HMSI plans to focus on growing both its scooter and bike models. “Our market share is tiny in 100cc bikes while in automatic scooters, we are about to dominate the market, so we will continue on that path," he said. Honda has started 2013 on a strong note, launching its new scooter range of the Activa, Aviator and Dio based on its HET fuel efficient technology.
Photograph (L-R): Y S Guleria, VP (sales & marketing) HMSI, Shinji Aoyama, GM, motorcycle operations, Honda Motor Co., Japan, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar and Keita Muramatsu - president & CEO, HMSI, at the Delhi launch of the CB Trigger.