Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) is betting big on the Indian 2-wheeler market. The 2-wheeler arm of the Japanese auto giant has a habit of taking majority stake in every market it enters. India and China are two such markets where the company doesn’t enjoy a dominant market share. Honda now has its sights set on uprooting Hero MotoCorp from the top spot, a task which was earlier set to be accomplished by 2020. Now though, the company is expecting to become the leader in the 2-wheeler segment by as soon as 2015.
To reach the top spot is not going to be easy for Honda and thus the company has been going all out to woo customers. Honda has set up an R&D base in India and is expanding capacity and sales outlets. The 2-wheeler giant has no plans of exporting products from India as China will serve that purpose. Thus all production will be utilised for domestic consumption only. Honda is the leader in the scooter segment and is present across all segments (except 400- 800cc, where it plans to enter soon). In order to boost brand image, Honda plans to promote its superbikes by pricing them aggressively.
Honda already sells the CB1000R, CBR1000RR Fireblade, VFR1200F and VT 1300 CX (Fury) in the Indian market, all of which are brought down via the CBU route. Just recently, the Indian government hiked duties on CBU motorcycles, resulting in these products getting even more expensive. Thus Honda is now planning to set up an assembly plant for its high-end motorcycles. Bringing bikes through the CKD route will result in prices dropping by a considerable amount, thereby appealing to a larger section of enthusiasts.
Honda’s high performance motorcycle range starts at Rs. 11.76 lakhs for the CB1000R and goes all the way up to Rs. 20.5 lakhs for the VFR1200F. The VT 1300 CX is priced at Rs. 15.2 lakhs while the CBR1000RR is priced at Rs. 15.69 lakhs (all prices on-road, Mumbai). All these superbikes from Honda are priced quite high and the sole reason is the high duty which is slapped on them for being completely built units.
Although Honda remains silent on which motorcycle they will start locally assembly on first, we feel the company will bring the CBR500R via the CKD route, putting it bang against the Kawasaki Ninja 650. Till date no superbike is assembled in India as the volumes are too low to justify the investment in plant and suppliers. However Honda can still afford to invest as the company wants to dominate in every segment and has been earning good profits thanks to its lower capacity offerings.