New-Product Blitz Paying Dividends for Honda India

Sales momentum has picked up in the past four years as Honda has introduced four popular new models, with four more due in the next two years.

Sudhakar Shah, Correspondent

September 23, 2015

3 Min Read
Mobilio MPV fast out of gate
Mobilio MPV fast out of gate.

MUMBAI – After languishing 17 years in India without any affordable or attractive models, Honda Cars India has come to understand the market and catch the imagination of the buyer.

WardsAuto data shows Honda car sales in India declined 24.1% to 47,222 in 2011 and light truck sales were negligible. But car sales climbed 54.3% in 2012 and rose 46.6% in 2013. Car deliveries kept pace in 2014, increasing 46.6%, but with the inclusion of MPVs led by the new Mobilio, light-vehicle deliveries surged 67% to 179,816.

Sales momentum has picked up in the past four years as Honda has introduced four popular new models, with four more due in the next two years. One of the newcomers, the relaunched Jazz hatchback, is available with a 1.5L diesel engine, Honda’s first in India.

The Jazz registered 6,676 sales in the first 20 days after its July launch. Honda has delivered more than 35,000 units of the Mobilio, an MPV with the appeal of a family car, since arriving on the market a year ago.

“Jazz has expanded the premium hatchback segment with its new engines,” says Jnaneswara Sen, senior vice president-Honda India. “It offers both a 1.2L i-VTEC (gasoline) engine as well as a 1.5L i-DTEC diesel which gives a fuel efficiency of 3.7 L/100 km (63.5 mpg).”

The 7-passenger Mobilio, Honda’s first entry in India’s MPV segment, is based on an extended Amaze-Brio platform and, like the Jazz, offers gasoline and diesel engine options.

Honda expects the Mobilio, Jazz, Amaze compact sedan and fourth-generation City midsize sedan to help it achieve double-digit sales growth in the coming months. Sen contends Honda cars have become more affordable in part because local component sourcing has been increased from 72% to 96%.

Honda plans four new vehicles during the next two years, but details are available for only three. They include a ninth-generation Accord that will launch next year in the premium-luxury segment after the previous Accord was discontinued in 2013 amid weak sales.

The new Accord will come only with a gasoline engine, but Honda may add a hybrid version to compete against Toyota’s Camry Hybrid.

Also planned is a new compact CUV unveiled at last month’s Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show and called the BR-V (Bold Runabout Vehicle ). It goes into production in January in Indonesia and will be exported to India and other countries later next year. It will have the same wheelbase as the Mobilio and will take on the popular Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano.

Honda is raising its profile in India on the manufacturing as well as the product front. It is investing $62 million in its Tapukara plant in Rajasthan state, raising its total investment in India including Noida (Haryana) to $257 million and capacity to 300,000.

There are reports Honda may invest Rs40 billion ($635 million) in a third India plant with capacity for 100,000-125,000 cars and light trucks.

The new plant would be built in Gujarat state, where Maruti Suzuki, Japanese rival Suzuki’s market-leading joint venture, is building new models designed to temper the brand’s low-cost image with more upscale products. Honda, meanwhile, is doing the opposite by adding small cars to its mostly premium lineup.


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