Not keen to enter small-car market for now, says Honda CEO

N. Ramakrishnan Tokyo | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on October 29, 2015

Takahiro Hachigo, President and Chief Executive of Honda Motor Co,with FCV Clarity Fuel Cell (left) and Super Cub Concept during apresentation at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show REUTERS   -  REUTERS

Honda Motor Co President and CEO Takahiro Hachigo Photo: Reuters

Focus to remain on two-wheeler segment

Honda Motor Co considers the huge small-car market in India dominated by the likes of Maruti Suzuki important, but it does not want to bring in me-too products.

“We want to come up with products which are uniquely Honda,” Noriaki Abe, Chief Operating Officer (Asia & Oceania), Honda Motor, told visiting Indian reporters at Honda’s headquarters here.

He admitted it was attractive for the company to consider the small car category, where Maruti had a strong presence, but said it was no use coming up with the same type of models as Maruti.

Takahiro Hachigo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Honda Motor, said that listening to demands for small cars, “we are thinking of what kind of strategy we need to put in place for this category.”

Hachigo said motorisation would increase in India and the key to tap into this was to have products that attracted customers.

As Abe pointed out, Honda had a strong presence in India in the motorcycle segment.

Increasing the company’s presence in the two-wheeler business could be one way of enabling motorisation. While the company would consider various ideas for small cars, it would also like to think about diversifying the market, which was why it had brought in the Mobilio.

For Honda, India is the fourth-largest market globally – after the US, China and Japan – and the largest in the Asia & Oceania region.

Scenario in India

In India, Honda’s model range includes the entry-level hatchback Brio, premium hatchback Jazz, compact sedan Amaze, mid-size sedan City, compact multi-purpose vehicle Mobilio, premium sedan Accord and sports utility vehicle CR-V. The company will launch the BR-V, a crossover utility vehicle, next financial year.

Honda Cars India has announced its decision to increase capacity at the Tapukara plant in Rajasthan taking the total capacity to 3 lakh units by middle of 2016, from 2.4 lakh units now – 1.2 lakh each at the Greater Noida plant in Uttar Pradesh and at Tapukara.

On India’s role in the development of future Honda cars, Hachigo said: “We are going to work on increasing the development capability in India.”

Globally, Honda wants to enhance its six regional operations so that each region was capable of doing its own development, procurement, production and sales.

When asked if Honda would make India an export hub for cars, the CEO said India was a growing export hub for components. It was also exporting cars in small volumes to South Africa and other nearby Asian countries. “We believe that if we can increase competitiveness of the finished cars produced in India, there is ample room for exports from India to grow,” he added.

He said he would focus on products and how to make them competitive, rather than focus on what numbers he would look to sell in the next five years.

Globally too, Honda would prefer to focus on making cars that met customers’ dreams, and sales will follow.

(The writer is in Tokyo at the invitation of Honda Motor Co.)

Published on October 29, 2015
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