Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), the country’s second largest two-wheeler maker, will kick-start a feasibility study for the electric scooter segment, which it could enter within the next couple of years. With the availability of numerous options in the market for an electric scooter, the company wants to ensure that it remains the preferred choice.
Honda has several electric two-wheeler models on sale in China and Japan but the company opted to move cautiously in the ASEAN countries, including India, since its market share in these markets are very strong. However, with demand for electric two-wheelers remaining strong in India despite the pandemic, Honda has decided to venture into this segment.
Atsushi Ogata, President, MD and CEO, HMSI said, “In the last six months, we have had very hard discussions with Japan on our EV strategy for India because there are so many competitors already existing here. After the summer holidays in Japan, we will invite several engineering experts to India to shift product plans to actual developmental stage.”
While Honda’s highest-selling model, Activa, is generally the first two-wheeler product in the buyer’s family, the model is also popular for being the second two-wheeler in the family, especially in the urban markets where female buyers make up a large component.
With price of petrol going past the ₹100 mark and the mileage of the scooter being low, buyers have switched to electric scooters as their second product. “The requirement of a second vehicle can be the electric scooter but we believe that the Activa will continue to have good demand for the next 3-4 years,” Ogata added. The company has also kept the option of using the Activa brand for the electric segment.
Ogata admitted that getting a fully-ready EV product from China to India is possible for the company and can do it in six months, but it will refrain from doing that because it wants to develop a localised solution, including components like battery, electronic control unit, and the motor for the Indian market.
When asked if the company is targeting 2023 for its maiden EV launch, Ogata added, “We will try as much as we can. We have to look at all regulations on EV, especially on safety in light with the recent fire incidents.” The government has come down heavily on such incidents.
While some two-wheeler players have adopted a singular approach of sticking to either removable battery or fixed battery, HMSI could adopt both because of the diversity of the Indian market. While the swappable or removable battery technology solution could become useful in the urban pockets, fixed batteries would be more suited for the rural markets.
A Honda group company is already engaged in swappable battery solution in Bengaluru, wherein it provides batteries for e-rickshaw, which could be adopted for its e-scooter too.
“Because (the charging) infrastructure is limited, there is scope for battery sharing, especially in big cities. Therefore, Honda decided to create battery sharing in Bengaluru. A new Honda company started battery sharing for e-rickshaw. We will expand this to Hyderabad and Mumbai, and this system can be applied to the e-scooter as well. We may have this kind of solution in India,” Ogata added.