In another effort to gain market traction in the premium commuter segment (150-180cc), Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) is developing a 160cc-engined motorcycle and plans to launch the model in the second quarter (July-September 2014) of the ongoing fiscal year.
According to reliable sources associated with the project, HMSI aims to reposition itself in the premium commuter segment with the upcoming bike. At present, the CB Unicorn stands as the sole successful model in this segment in the local market.
Honda’s premium commuter portfolio currently includes the 149.1cc CB Unicorn and CB Trigger, given that the faired CBR150R has a different positioning. Another 150cc model, the CB Unicorn Dazzler, initially displayed at the Auto Expo 2010 and launched later that year, has now been discontinued. While Honda added the CB Trigger to its stable in mid-2013, the model, however, has failed to deliver in terms of big numbers.
The upcoming premium commuter bike will be powered by a slightly more powerful single-cylinder, 160cc, four-stroke engine and will be sportier than HMSI’s existing 150cc models.
A source, who is aware of the project, said: “Honda has been largely struggling in the 150cc segment for a very long time; it has taken sizeable gaps in updating the existing model(s) as well as introducing a new model, and the latest was the CB Trigger last year. The upcoming 160cc bike would be another shot at the segment by Honda, which is following a mandate of pushing the sales of its bikes in India. The new bike will be an attractive package of technology and design without compromising on the core strength of fuel efficiency.”
HMSI’s premium commuter bike will be pitted against the segment’s top sellers – Bajaj’s Pulsar 150 DTS-i and Yamaha’s FZ-S and FZ-16.
The two-wheeler manufacturer also plans to add another model to its Dream commuter bike series, which currently comprises of the 109cc Dream Yuga and Dream Neo. On the back of two new bike launches planned for this year, the company, at its recently held 13th annual business meet in Japan, had announced its ambitious sales target of 45 lakh units for 2014-15. HMSI reportedly sold a total of 3,721,935 units during 2013-14 (including exports).
HMSI is also adding 1,000 new touch-points to its network, which is expected to stand at 3,800 outlets by the end of 2014-15.
Autocar Professional contacted the company for additional details on the new 160cc bike project, but did not receive a response.
Meanwhile, HMSI has registered growth of 28.29 percent in June 2014 with sales of 323,224 units (June 2013: 251,936 units). Last month, the company sold 172,119 scooters and 151,105 motorcycles, which also included despatches made to foreign destinations. While scooters marked a growth of 31.14 percent (June 2013: 131,250), motorcycle sales rose 25.21 percent (June 2013: 120,686). For Q1 FY2014-15, total sales add up to 992,892 units, a healthy 34.05 percent growth over Q1 FY2013-14 when the company had sold 740,687 units. Notably, the company has managed to sell nearly a million two-wheelers in the first quarter. Assuming that it continues to sell with the same pace, it can conveniently record near-four million unit sales during this fiscal, close to its ambitious FY2014-15 target of 4.5 million units.
Photograph: Honda’s 149.1cc CB Trigger.