EXCLUSIVE: Honda Motorcycle eyes big EV push, plans a portfolio of 10 models in the next five years

Company to launch two new models - Activa EV with a fixed battery solution, and a Moped with a swappable battery alternative.

By Ketan Thakkar calendar 24 Mar 2023 Views icon16324 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, the country's second largest two-wheeler maker is readying an ambitious plan of introducing 10 all electric two wheelers in the coming decade, that will cater to the entire spectrum of zero emission vehicles in the future.

The company is likely to announce its electric vehicle (EV) strategy on March 29. According to several people in the know, these 10 models are likely to be based on a minimum of vehicle architectures or more. The plan is to offer multiple powertrains, speed category, and body types. The EV plan has been defined after an exhaustive study for over two years. The products developed will be available in both fixed and swappable alternatives.

Honda Motorcycle is amongst the last key mainstream players to enter the EV market in 2024, however, it may be the first Japanese two-wheeler brand to enter the fledgling EV market which is witnessing rapid adoption.

To kickstart the electric vehicle gameplan, the work on two projects codenamed - GJNA and K4BA has already started. One of them is Activa Electric which will be based on a fixed battery construct, whereas the other is a Moped which will come with a swappable alternative.

The first EV from Honda Motorcycle will hit the roads in March 2024, followed by another model in September 2024. Both these models have been developed with a volume of the potential of half a million units cumulatively over a three-year period. As more models are introduced till 2026-2027, the maker of Activa and Shine hopes to take up volumes close to million units, added one of the six people that Autocar Professional spoke with on Honda’s EV strategy.

In the first year, Honda has guided for a production of 1-1.5 lakh units between both models. For the mainstream market, the company is eyeing a strong double-digit growth in FY24 to about 5 million units.

To support swappable battery alternatives, Honda Power Pack Energy India Private Limited (HEID) has already established a base in Bengaluru. The swappable solutions are currently offered to the three-wheeler industry, eventually in-house Power pack business will aid the expansion of Honda Motorcycle’s EV business. Honda was in fact open to alliances in the last-mile mobility space.

Set up in November 2021, the battery swapping service was started by Honda to support electric auto rickshaws. HEID started with a network of 70 swapping stations in Bengaluru, which is planned to be expanded to other cities.

While the immediate focus for Honda is to carve a space for itself in a domestic market, that is witnessing billions of dollars of commitment on new capacities and the rush of numerous start-ups, eventually, the company intends to ship EVs to the global markets too.

 In an email response, the Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India spokesperson declined to share the specifics but reiterated that the plan will be announced on March 29.

The gameplan was mooted under Atsushi Ogata, the President of Honda Motorcycle & Scooters India, who over the last three years has defined a roadmap to expand the addressable market for the Japanese two-wheeler major.

Having started addressing the premium end of market in FY21, and FY22 with Big Wing mid-size motorcycles, Ogata brought in its first mass market motorcycle Shine 100 earlier in the month, now he is putting the third and the most critical pillar for the future - i.e. electric vehicles foray.

In a recent interview Ogata said that he expects the penetration of EVs to be in the range of 15-25 percent by the end of the decade and Honda has defined its roadmap based on these forecasts.  

The electric vehicle penetration has already crossed 5-7 percent of the overall two-wheeler market led by new-age startups, Ola, Ather, and seasoned players like Hero Electric.

Legacy players like Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor have also made decent inroads in this emerging mobility space.

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