New Delhi, January 7, 2014: It was a momentous occasion for Honda Cars India as it rolled out its fourth-generation City saloon, first revealed in November 2013, for the first time powered by a 1.5L i-DTEC diesel engine based on the carmaker’s Earth Dreams Technology.
Priced between Rs 742,000 for the petrol EMT trim and Rs 10,98,000 for the top-end VX CVT variant, the diesel range kicks off at Rs 862,000 for the EMT version all the way up to Rs 11,10,000 for the top-end VXMT option. The new City is on offer in 5 variants in petrol and diesel. Additionally, the saloon will be available in CVT in two petrol trim, SV and VX.
The earlier base corporate grade petrol model of the City was priced at Rs 739,000, thus the starting price of the new City is Rs 3,000 higher. Honda Cars India has already received 9,000 pre-launch bookings with diesel constituting 70 percent.
Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, managing officer, Honda Motor Company, and representative of development, purchasing and production in Asia & the Oceania region, said: “With the fourth-generation City now available in diesel, Honda Cars is shifting gears to significantly expand its operating universe in India. The new launch will be a very important facet in this process as the car has witnessed an exceptional success ever since it was launched here.” The City was launched in India in 1998 and has sold 430,000 units so far.
The new diesel City will deliver a fuel efficiency of 26kpl as per ARAI data and is mated to a newly developed six-speed manual transmission. The petrol variant of the City, powered by a 1.5L i-VTEC engine, gets an advanced CVT that delivers fuel efficiency of 18kpl, while the 5-speed manual transmission delivers 17.8kpl.
Honda Cars India is aggressively targeting Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Hironori Kanayama, president and CEO, said that 58 percent of the customers for the new saloon are expected to be drawn from this region. The new City comes with a 90 percent localisation content, which is in line with Honda’s growing shift towards increasing the local content in all its models.
“While the City diesel deliveries will start immediately, the petrol version will be available starting mid-February,” said Kanayama who expects the City to add to the company’s annual sales which touched 100,000 units in calendar year 2013. With two new models to be launched in two new segments this year, he is bullish on a higher annual tally. The start of third shift operations at the Greater Noida plant from last November has increased daily production capacity to 616 units from the 440 units produced in two shifts.
The production schedule for the City will be based on market demand as the Greater Noida plant has a flexi-assembly line which can manufacture different car models, said Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president, sales and marketing.
Meanwhile, the development of the second manufacturing facility at Tapukara in Rajasthan is on the fast track. The plant will be ready during the first half of 2014 and, like the Noida plant, will have a flexi-assembly line.
The carmaker is simultaneously strengthening its dealer outlets to expand its reach to customers in smaller towns. By March 2014, the target is to increase the number of outlets to 170 in 107 cities from 159 outlets in 100 cities.
The Amaze saloon has sold over 55,000 units so far with a third of its sales coming from each of the Tier 2 and 3 cities. Spare parts availability and servicing are also being strengthened. About 30 items will be on offer in the accessory segment for the City with a high level of localisation.
At present, the City will target domestic customers though the possibility of exports is also being explored. Last year, Honda Cars India kicked off exports of the Brio hatchback and the Amaze to South Africa and Nepal. The export target for 2013-14 is 6,000 units.
Photograph (L-R): Raman Kumar Sharma, SVP and director, Honda Cars India; Hironori Kanayama, president & CEO, Honda Cars India; Shigeru Yamazaki, SVP & director (Marketing & Sales) Honda Cars India; and Jnaneswar Sen, SVP (Marketing & Sales) Honda Cars India.
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