Honda is back in the SUV game with Elevate, 22,595 units sold in five months
New Elevate gives Honda, which had missed riding the surging wave of demand for SUVs in India in recent years, new verve both in the domestic market and also exports, where shipments of the India-made, rebadged-as-WR-V to home market Japan have begun.
Honda Cars India, which was missing out bigtime on the exciting action in India’s booming SUV market, is back in the game with its new Elevate midsize SUV.
Built on Honda’s Global Small Car platform, the Elevate is benefiting from the rising demand in India for midsize SUVs. Launched on September 4, 2023, at a starting price of Rs 11 lakh through to Rs 15.99 lakh for the top-end variant, the Honda Elevate has till end-December 2023 sold a total of 22,595 units in five months, averaging monthly wholesales of 4,519 units.
Sale of 22,595 Elevate SUVs contibuted 35% to Honda Cars India's PV sales of 63,690 PVs in in April-December 2023 and increased its UV share to 1.24 percent. HCIL has also exported 337 units of the rebadged-for-Japan model.
This has given Honda Cars India a utility vehicle market share of 1.24% in the April-December 2023 period compared to 0.32% a year ago (April-December 2022: 4,758 UVs). Furthermore, the Elevate has contributed to 35.47% of total passenger vehicle sales for the Japanese car and SUV manufacturer which registered total wholesales of 63,690 passenger vehicles in the first nine months of FY2024.
What is creditable is that the Honda Elevate is part of a hotly contested segment where it rivals India’s best-selling midsize SUV, the Hyundai Creta, Maruti Grand Vitara, Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder, Kia Seltos, MS Astor, Volkswagen Taigun, Skoda Kushaq and the recently launched Citroen C3 Aircross.
HCIL began production of the Elevate at its Tapukara plant in Rajasthan on July 31, 2023. President & CEO Takuya Tsumura seen here with with HCIL team members.
Sold in seven variants, the Honda Elevate is powered by the same 121hp, 145 Nm, 1.5-litre four-cylinder i-VTEC petrol engine as in the Honda City, mated with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed CVT automatic transmission. Dimension-wise, the Elevate is 4312mm long, 1790mm wide, 1650mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2650mm. While ground clearance is 220mm, boot space is 458 litres.
On the features front, the Honda Elevate has a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a seven-inch semi-digital instrument cluster. There is also a lane-watch camera, wireless charging and a rear parking camera. Honda Cars India has given the Honda Sensing ADAS suite to the Elevate with features like a collision mitigation braking system, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, road departure warning and automatic high beam assist. Of its rivals, only the new Kia Seltos and MG Astor have ADAS.
The Elevate SUV is manufactured at Honda Cars India's Tapukara plant in Rajasthan along with the Honda WR-V SUV for Japan (pictured below). Honda Japan will begin sale of the made-in-India WR-V on March 22, 2024 and has targeted monthly volumes of 3,000 units, which will give a fillip to HCIL exports.
Over 300 made-in-India WR-V-badged Elevates exported to Japan
Meanwhile, the Elevate has also given a fillip to Honda Cars India’s export programme. The company has begun exporting the made-in-Tapukara (Rajasthan plant) SUV to Japan, where it has been badged as the ‘WR-V’ or Winsome Runabout Vehicle.
The Elevate for Japan (WR-V), which is powered by the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, looks identical to the India model but gets an all-black interior compared to the dual-tone black-and-beige cabin in the India-market Elevate. The made-for-Japan model also gets a different infotainment screen, presumably for country-specific content.
As per export data published by SIAM, Honda Cars India has exported a total of 337 Elevates / WR-Vs to Japan till end-December 2023. Honda Motor Co plans to begin sales of the India-made WR-V in Japan from March 22, 2024 and has targeted monthly sales of 3,000 units, which translates into 36,000 units annually. If this monthly target is achieved in Japan, then Honda Cars India could be looking at a sizeable jump in its exports in FY2024 and beyond. The company, which shipped 22,710 units overseas in FY2023, has in the first nine months of FY2024 exported 20,262 cars and SUVs.
India is the first country to manufacture and sell the Elevate, which has a localisation level of more than 90%, globally. Honda’s export strategy aims to make India as an important export hub for the new model to other parts of the world, catering to the robust demand for SUVs globally.
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