‘Honda Connect app to offer value-added service to customers’

S Ronendra Singh | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on December 16, 2015

KATSUSHI INOUE President and CEO, Honda Cars India

Efforts on to scale up production at Noida, Tapukara plants, says Honda CEO

New Delhi, December 16

Honda Cars India (HCIL) launched Honda Connect, an intelligent and advanced information platform for its customers to provide convenient access to detailed information about Honda vehicles (Jazz, City and CR-V) and other services on their smartphones. The step towards starting such platform is to offer a value-added communications channel that bonds Honda more closely with its customers. BusinessLine caught up with Katsushi Inoue, President and Chief Executive Officer, HCIL, who said there will be more functions to the application in the near future and expand it to other models such as Amaze and Mobilio. While not indicating when the next price increase will happen, he said: ‘we are always the last one to do so’. Excerpts.

The app is available to only Android and iOS users. Will it be available for Windows-based smartphones too?

So far we don’t have any such plans. Over 97 per cent of Indian smartphone users are on Android and iOS, so we have launched the app on these operating systems.

As far as a tie-up with telecom operators is concerned we don’t have plans to tie-up with other service providers. I believe Vodafone’s (Honda’s partner) coverage is big enough. The data connectivity will be available on Vodafone on an annual subscription basis just like any other data plan. The development of Honda Connect is part of our mission to create innovations that best suit our customers' digital-based lifestyles.

Honda has recalled more than three-lakh cars this year on various issues. Isn’t it a concern for you? What kind of corrective measures are taking?

No, I don’t think we need to worry. For us, recall is not a dirty word. Recall is just a scheme and we are honest about it. If we find, even if there is a chance of an accident or any trouble, we appeal to the customers. As long as we have the recall scheme, I think the customers will trust us. We take all the measures on quality control and we have been reviewing production and design systems as an ongoing process.

Your November sales were not as good as the same month last year. Is there any particular reason?

It is simply demand and supply trend. In any case, we report the wholesale figures publicly and not the retail numbers. We are quite happy with the retail figures as for us the most important part is the retail sales. Wholesale figures can always be manipulated by simply giving discounts and dealers can buy that. I am quite happy about Honda’s sales progress right now and positive about future growth.

What are your expansion plans for the Noida and Tapukara plants? You are also exporting engine components from Tapukara plant. What is your target for next year?

In the Tapukara plant, we will scale up the production capacity to 1.8 lakh units per year (from 1.20 lakh units currently) from middle of next year. We have already announced the investment of ₹380 crore for capacity enhancement and it is ongoing. Our target is to sell three lakh cars from both the plants put together next year.

The turnover of engine components from that plant is expected to cross ₹1,000 crore this financial year from around ₹700 crore last year.

On the whole debate of diesel vehicles ban from Delhi roads, would there be any impact to you or your future plans of launching diesel cars?

All the companies will be affected by that decision for sure. But, we will be affected less as most of our businesses in Delhi-NCR come from petrol vehicles. For future, we have not made up any measures.

Maruti Suzuki India is exporting one of its cars (Baleno) made here to Japan. Does Honda also have similar plan with the parent company in Japan?

We don’t have such plans. They (Maruti) have so many plants and India is their largest market. India is not the largest market for Honda.

Published on December 16, 2015
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