The writing was on the wall. It was a matter of when and not why. Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, India’s No. 2 two-wheeler OEM, has confirmed plans to enter the growing electric two-wheeler market in the country. The Japanese major’s EV market entry is most likely to happen in FY2023.
In fact, at Autocar Professional's Two-Wheeler Week virtual conclave which opened today, YS Guleria, Director (Sales & Marketing), HMSI, confirmed the same. He said: "E-scooters are the talk of the town and government support is there. But there are challenges and there's no quick shift. Definitely of interest for short commuting. We will have our own model in FY2023."
As per a PTI report, HMSI plans to commence feasibility runs of the upcoming Honda electric scooter with its dealer-partners at the end of the ongoing festive season this year. It is learnt that HMSI President, MD and CEO Atsushi Ogata told PTI that the company has decided to plug into the EV market following details discussions with parent Honda Motor Company, Japan. While in-depth and model-specific details have yet to be finalised, Ogata said "we have made a commitment to launch (EV product) within the next financial year."
The HMSI boss added that many firms, including overseas players, are entering India’s EV market as a result of the government’s EV-friendly moves and supportive investments in developing green infrastructure.
Elaborating further, Ogata stated that two-wheeler riders have begun using EVs for short commutes in cities but for long-distance travelling and rural areas, two-wheelers powered by internal combustion engines still have an edge.
"Some customers are using electric two-wheelers for very short commutes or very flat street conditions in big cities. So such customers have started to consider such options but still I think major customer segments are preferring to keep our existing line-up because still in front of EV products, existing ICE engine specs have a lot of positive points," said Ogata.
He added: "So far I don't believe there will be a drastic shift from ICE engines to the EV. We are considering it because we have the know-how of EV technology since the last several decades, so why not consider it for the Indian market."
While HMSI’s upcoming electric scooter will help expand its overall product range, there are no plans to transition the popular Honda Activa – India’s best-selling scooter for decades – or the Shine commuter motorcycle to electric power. Interestingly, Honda is also considering tapping the growing business opportunity in BMW (battery management system) in India.
It may be recollected that Honda had showcased its PCX electric scooter at Auto Expo 2018 in New Delhi. The PCX urban e-scooter is 1923mm long, 745mm wide and 1107mm tall. This eco-friendly Honda, which develops 0.98kW, is equipped with a high-output motor developed independently by Honda as well as the Honda Mobile Power Pack, a detachable lithium ion mobile battery pack.
Will the U-Go or a variant come to India?
In early August 2021, Honda launched the new U-Go urban electric scooter in China, where the company is targeting speedy gains. The product has rolled out from its Chinese JV – Wuyang-Honda – founded in 1992 with Guangshou Motors Group Company.
Aimed at the urban commuter, the U-Go has a rated power of 1.2kW and peak power of 1.8kW with the motor delivery maximum efficiency of 88 percent. It has a top speed of 53kph and an estimated travel range of above 65km. This model is priced at 7,988 Chinese Yuan (Rs 84,433).
A lower-powered variant, which delivers 0.8kW and a top speed of 43kph, is priced at 7,499 yuan (Rs 79,264). Both variants come with a removable 48V 30aH lithium-ion battery.
However, given India's value-conscious consumers and a competitive market, Honda could be working on a brand-new model for the country. Stay plugged in for more updates.