Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) today inaugurated its fourth manufacturing plant at Vithalapur (Mandal taluk, Ahmedabad district), Gujarat. The new 1.2 million scooters per annum plant is part of a strategic plan to further strengthen the company’s hold on the domestic scooter market.
Spread over 250 acres, the scooters-only plant will see operations come up in two phases. The first production line of 600,000 units per annum will be followed by a second line with a similar volume by mid-2016. With this, HMSI’s total production capacity will stand increased to 5.8 million units, comprising 1.6 million units at Plant 1 (Haryana), 1.2 million units at Plant 2 (Rajasthan), 1.8 million units at Plant 3 (Karnataka) and another 1.2 million units at Plant 4 (Gujarat).
Honda along with its suppliers have invested close to Rs 2,200 crore in the new plant, which will generate around 9,000 new jobs in Gujarat. Of this, Honda’s investment is Rs 1,100 crore and direct employment of 3,000 workers while 22 existing and new component suppliers have set up manufacturing facilities in Gujarat, investing a similar Rs 1,100 crore and creating 6,000 jobs in their plants.
According to HMSI, the Gujarat plant has many technology firsts. It is Honda’s first two-wheeler plant worldwide where the entire press shop will be fully automated and operated by robots 24x7. Also, for the first time in its Indian two-wheeler operations, Honda has introduced vacuum cooling technology and nitrogen pressurisation in die-casting, use of digital eye technology in various processes and traceability of in-house parts with QR codes in the machine shop. The company has also introduced higher automation to reduce operator fatigue through fully automated press shop, material handling robots for the full frame in the weld shop and automatic transfer of front fork assembly in the frame assembly.
The new plant is as environment-friendly as it is technologically advanced. Over one-third of the total plant area of 250 acres is a dedicated green zone. It is the first Honda’s two-wheeler plant to introduce an Integrated Zero Liquid Discharge Facility which the company says is “closely aligned to Honda’s 3R principle of – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”
Further, maximum natural lighting and ventilation coupled with adoption of LED lights proactively reduces energy consumption during production. Use of intelligent automation reduces worker fatigue and stress levels and there is a plan to set up an internal rain harvesting system as well.
The importance of the fourth plant can be gauged from the executives present at the inauguration today. They included Anandiben Patel, chief minister of Gujarat; Noriake Abe, Operating Officer, Chief Operating Officer - Asia and Oceania Regional Operations, Honda Motor Co; Shinji Aoyama, Operating Officer and Director, Chief Operating Officer, Motorcycle Operations, Honda Motor Co, Toshiyuki Shimabara, Operating Officer, Executive In charge of Motorcycle Production, Motorcycle operations, Honda Motor Co; Keita Muramatsu, president & CEO, HMSI; Toshinobu Motai, Chief Production Officer, HMSI; V Sridhar, senior VP and director – Corporate Office Production, HMSI; Anupam Mohindroo, senior VP and director – Purchase Head office, HMSI; and Yadvinder Singh Guleria, senior VP – Sales & Marketing, HMSI.
Elaborating on the Asia Oceania region which contributes 56% to Honda’s global sales (two-wheelers, cars and power products) and how India leads the growth momentum, Noriaki Abe, Operating Officer, COO - Asia and Oceania Regional Operations, Honda Motor Co, said: “ASEAN countries contribute 13.8 million two-wheeler sales which is 80% of Honda’s global unit sales with production facilities in 9 countries. India is the fastest growing economy in the world and one of the most important and fast-growing markets for Honda. Our fourth factory in Gujarat will make India attain No. 1 position in all ASEAN countries. We would expect this growth momentum to continue for the Indian market as well as expect the Indian operation to be the export hub for ASEAN countries. This plant would be a benchmark plant in India not only in terms of volume but also safety, quality, morale and human aspects.”
Shinji Aoyama, Operating Officer and Director, COO, Motorcycle Operations, Honda Motor Co, added: “India plays a key role for Honda’s two-wheeler business. In 2015 Honda’s global sales of all products were 28 million units, of which global two-wheeler sales stood at 17 million units. Today, 25% of Honda two-wheelers sold worldwide come from India. We will continue to invest in technology for the Indian market. Through training and cross-market collaborations, we want to make India Honda’s technology hub as well. Driven by the visionary growth-centric outlook of the government, there is an increased focus on investing in roads and infrastructure. These factors imply that the best days for the scooter market in India, are yet to come.”
Elaborating on the trend of increasing demand for automatic scooters in Indian market and how bringing a scooter-only plant in India makes business sense for Honda, Keita Muramatsu, president and CEO, HMSI, said: “Increasing scooterisation, a trend seen earlier in developed markets of the world, is the key driver for the Indian two-wheeler industry today. Honda 2Wheelers is the undisputed market leader in this segment in India with a market share of 56% and growing. Gujarat is an extremely productive market for Honda and we have a market share of 62% of the scooter segment here.”