Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) today introduced a new variant to its midsized motorcycle – Honda H’ness CB350 – with the launch of the CB350RS.
Acronym for ‘Road Sailing’ the RS is being touted to be based on the concept of pleasure touring with the host of changes it brings over and above the regular H’ness CB350 which has sold over 10,000 units within three months of its launch in October 2020.
The Honda CB350RS gets additions such as wide-pattern tyres both front and back, sleek LED turn indicators, and brushed-metal ring around the headlamp. More changes have been brought to the seat which now gets a ‘tuck-and-roll’ design, an under-seat rear LED tail lamp cluster, front fork boots and a bash plate to protect the engine.
All these modifications to the regular H’ness CB350 make the CB350RS a more pleasing and younger design, which is aimed at buyers looking for a scrambler-likevibe from their motorcycle in this segment.
HMSI has priced the CB350RS at Rs 196,000 ex-showroom, Gurgaon, and it will be offered in two colour schemes – solid red and yellow-black dual-tone combination. The company says it is all set to commence the mass production of the new CB350RS and is planning to make the product available at its premium BigWing dealerships by early next month.
Expansion of BigWing network
According to Atsushi Ogata, MD, president and CEO, HMSI, “We are working at the back end to meet the increasing demand for the H’nessbrand across the country and with the BigWing outlets,we have been expanding our presence across India at a rapid pace.”
HMSI is on track with its plans of setting up 50 such premium retail outlets in key cities by end of FY2021, and will inaugurate the 35th outlet by end-February and thereafter go on to meet its target of 50 showrooms by end-March.
The BigWing retail format will sell four models from Honda’s premium range of motorcycles, including the Africa Twin, CB1000RR-RFireblade, Honda H’ness CB350 and Honda CB350RS.
“The BigWing is offering an immersive experience to our customers and our focus is to nurture the motorcycling culture with responsibility by offering accessories such as riding gears and inculcating a safe riding culture,” said Yadvinder Singh Guleria, director, Sales and Marketing, HMSI.
The launch of the H’ness CB350 has opened new avenues for HMSI in the form of engaging with its customers in a different fashion. The company says it has undertaken close to 30 group rides with its customers wherein a total of 1,000 owners have taken part in these rides.
“Going forward, we are working towards organising more well-planned events and more exciting ones as well,” Guleria remarked.
Unfazed by semiconductor shortage
With a product that is high on electronics and connectivity, the CB350RS comes with a fully-digital instrument cluster with features such as Honda Selectable Torque Control. But unlike many OEMs which are facing the ongoing global shortage of semiconductor supply to the automotive industry, HMSI is relatively immune.
“HMSI is not facing this kind of problem for manufacturing of motorcycles,” Ogata responded to Autocar Professional’s query during the virtual launch event.
While the company witnessed tough times during the first two quarters of FY2020-21, it says it was able to improve with better sales during Q3, owing also to the sprightly response to the H’ness CB350.
But, even as things are looking to move forward, “We are just starting with 2021 and so far, our sales results are better than last year. Having said that, still the economic situation is not fully recovered and completely optimistic.”
“We need to carefully watch town-by-town and region-by-region sales in order to make more precise plans. We are trying to have a more linear production plan depending upon the actual market demand and are almost reaching full capacity utilisation,” Ogata concluded.