Honda launches snazzy CBR 650F superbike in India at Rs 730,000

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 04 Aug 2015

L-R: Actor Akshay Kumar; Y S Guleria, SVP (Sales & Marketing), HMSI; Keita Muramatsu, president & CEO, HMSI; Noriaski Abe, CEO, Regional Operations, Asia Oceania; and actor Taapsee Pannu, at the CBR

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) today launched its flagship CBR 650F superbike at Rs 730,000 (ex-showroom Delhi) and Rs 760,970 (ex-showroom Mumbai). The pricing seems to be on the higher side but clearly Honda is banking on its sportsbike heritage and the current positive momentum in the Indian market to drive sales.  

The assembled-in-Manesar 85.8bhp premium sports tourer, which has ABS (anti-lock braking system) as standard fitment will be sold from exclusive sales and service shop-in-shop Wing World dealerships across 12 Indian cities.

The Honda CBR650F, which is imported in the form of CKD kits, is powered by the liquid-cooled, inline four-cylinder, 649cc engine.

As Autocar Professional had reported online on May 6, local assembly of the CBR 650F will have an initial assembly operation of two bikes per day with the number to grow based on demand. The CBR650F will have 95 percent import content with the remaining 5 percent constituting locally sourced small components. The volume of production and localisation will be ramped up in a phased manner with enhancement of worker skills and as local parts sourcing spikes up in line with stringent quality norms of the company.

With this flagship model, HMSI becomes the first company in the league of the big four (Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto, HMSI and TVS Motor Company – jointly accounted for 91 percent of the two-wheeler industry in FY2014-15) to enter the midsized bike segment in India with a four-cylinder engine configuration. Besides HMSI, Italy’s Benelli is the only other brand which currently offers midsized bikes (600cc) with four-cylinder engine configuration (TNT 600GT and 600i). Japan’s Kawasaki is another big bike player that already offers its Z800 model that comes with a four-cylinder, 805cc engine. 

Carrying on the CBR model programme for India, HMSI also launched the face-lifted CBR250R and new CBR150R, both with sporty new graphics, aiming to ride the growing demand for sportsbikes in the country.

HMSI also took the covers off its all-new 160cc CB Hornet 160R. The CB Unicorn 160R is a sportier, more aggressively styled twin of the existing Unicorn premium commuter bike. The Hornet gets a shorter single-piece handlebar, a new headlight unit and plastic bits on the tank to add muscle to the overall appearance; the stubby silencer with an aluminium-finished shroud adds to the look as do the aluminium-finished grab rails for the pillion. The Hornet is expected to compete with other motorcycles in its class such as the Yamaha FZ-S V2.0 and will try to dethrone the current class-leader – the Suzuki Gixxer – in the 150-160cc class, performance and naked motorcycle segment.

There was also the 110cc Livo on show. This model targets the mass-market commuter bike segment, specifically students, executives and young entrepreneurs. The Livo is priced at Rs.57,090 for the self-drum-alloy variant and Rs 59,590 for the self-disc-alloy variant (ex-showroom, Mumbai).

HMSI's strategic capacity expansion plan

The company, which currently has a 25.5 percent share of the overall two-wheeler market in India, is targeting future growth by creating ample capacity. Having begun production in 2001 from its first plant of 1.65 million unit capacity at Manesar (Haryana), its opened its second plant in 2011 at Tapukara (Rajasthan) which augmented capacity by an additional 1.2 million units to 2.8 million units. In 2013, a third plant was set up at Narsapura (Karnataka) with 1.8 million capacity and Honda’s largest two-wheeler plant across the world. All the plants are currently running full capacity. HMSI is now looking to create 39 percent additional capacity within the next 3-5 years.

Foreseeing a rapid increase in customer demand for automatic scooters, Honda is constructing its fourth plant in India at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Once operational in early 2016, this plant will be the world’s largest scooter only plant with 1.2 million units annual capacity.

Overall, this will take total two-wheeler production capacity to 5.8 million units. 

More from Honda:

- Company confirms four-bike rollout before December as part of ‘15 for 2015’

- HMSI demands a premium for its flagship CBR650F