Japanese car major Honda Cars India is hoping to exhaust its full capacity of 300,000 units per annum spread over its two factories in Greater Noida and Tapukara over the next five years. To meet that target, the company is planning to launch at least six new products in the next three years. Three of them--the next generation compact sedan Amaze, executive sedan Civic and SUV CR-V were showcased at the ongoing New Delhi Auto Expo.
In 2017, Honda sold 178,755 units a growth of 15 percent over 2016. It was the fourth largest passenger vehicle manufacturer in the country.
"It is a unique situation for us in India that we compete with Suzuki in the market. Elsewhere it is only between us and Toyota," said Yoichiro Ueno, President and CEO, Honda Cars India. "We are optimistic about our prospects in India. The per capita income of the population here is growing and we believe the market will gradually move towards more premium cars. That will help us."
After establishing itself as a middle of the road premium car maker in the country, Honda tried to appeal to a more mass market audience traditionally catered to by market leader Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai a few years back. That attempt was centered around its entry level hatchback Brio that ultimately spawned other body styles like the Amaze sedan and Mobilio and BR-V utility vehicles. It however did not yield the kind of dividends that Honda was hoping for and Ueno admitted the company did not meet the expectations of its consumers with some of these products.
"We have a very loyal customer base in India and maybe we could not fulfil some of these aspirations with our products in the past," he said. "Now we want to focus on premium offerings in each of the segments we are present in. So, we are bringing the Civic back (it was discontinued in 2012) and are also adding diesel engine to CR-V."
Last year, the company tasted success with WR-V, a crossover version of its premium hatch back Jazz, and Ueno believes the company will try to bring in more SUVs in the market. Compact SUVs that are less than four metres in length, have been a rage with consumers in India with manufacturers like Maruti, Ford, Tata and Mahindra launching multiple products in the last few years.
"The new Amaze platform is wider and longer than the existing layout and it is possible to create a compact SUV on that. We will explore that," Ueno said. "My aim is to fully exhaust our 300,000 unit capacity in the next 5 years. If the market continues to grow in the way it is expected to, we should be able to achieve that."