Honda Cars India, which launched its fourth-generation City sedan earlier this week, has bought 380 acres of land at Vithalapur, near the scooter manufacturing plant of sister firm, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, to set up its third plant in the country at a later date.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, Yoichiro Ueno, president and CEO of Honda Cars India, said the rationale behind buying the land is the constantly rising costs of real estate in India. This will enable the company to ensure there is no time lag when it decides to set up its third car manufacturing plant.
At present, Honda has two plants – one each of 120,000 units at Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh and in Tapukara, Rajasthan for a cumulative production capacity of 240,000 units. While capacity utilisation at the Tapukara plant is almost 100 percent, there is scope for further expansion there.
While the Greater Noida plant produces the Brio, Mobilio, Amaze, City, CR-V and the Accord Hybrid (as a CBU), the Tapukara plant rolls out the Jazz, City, Amaze and BR-V.
WR-V launch on March 16
Meanwhile, Honda is gearing up to launch its next vehicle for India – the Jazz-based crossover hatchback, WR-V. First revealed on November 9, 2016 at the Sao Paulo Auto Show, the India launch is on March 16.
According to Honda, the WR-V (which stands for ‘Winsome Runabout Vehicle’) is a “tough and urban” SUV design as well as excellent utility and offers a spacious cabin within a compact body size. Other attributes are high fuel economy and stable handling performance.
With the WR-V's unique front and rear styling and rugged exterior bits, Honda aims to take the crossover-hatchback game ahead of its rivals. The WR-V will take on the Hyundai i20 Active, Toyota Etios Cross and the Fiat Avventura and also take a shot at the booming compact SUV segment which includes models like the Maruti Vitara Brezza and the Ford EcoSport.
According to Ueno, the company intends to strengthen the premiumness of the brand in every segment. Like with the recently launched new City sedan, it plans to aggressively target Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities for the WR-V.
The Japanese carmaker needs some sales winners and rather fast at that. In the April 2016-January 2017 period, Honda has sold a total of 124,114 units, down 23 percent year on year. Its market share in the Indian passenger vehicle market has dropped to 4.95 percent, from 7.03 percent in the April 2015-January 2016 period. It is banking on the new City and also the upcoming WR-V to give it a new charge in the market.
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