Honda Motorcycle drives into the BS-VI regime

Honda Motorcycle drives into the BS-VI regime

Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India have taken rapid strides in moving to the Bharat Stage-VI emission norms, which will come into effect from April 1. Well before the deadline, HMSI has stopped supplying BS-IV two-wheelers to dealerships.

The company has recorded good sales numbers as far as the newly introduced BS-VI models are concerned. “In terms of volume, we have crossed the two-lakh mark in total for BS-VI two-wheelers,” said Yadvinder Singh Guleria, Senior Vice-president, Sales and Marketing, HMSI.

“The response to our BS-VI products has been very good. Despite the customers having a choice between BS-IV and BS-VI products available in the market, many have come forward and bought the BS-VI in spite of the price increase. They saw more value in it,” he said.

HMSI started the new varients with the Activa BS-VI that went on sale in September 2019. “That was almost six months before the deadline (for switching to BS-VI).

Then, we followed it up with the SP125 launch in November. The most important launch was the Activa 6G in January. We have also launched the Dio BS-VI recently. These four vehicles contribute to about 70% of our business in www.Honda two-wheeler business in India,” he stated.

In fact, HMSI has not just launched BS-VI models in India but also come up with value-added features in their products. “We have given a lot of value-added features like enhanced smart power. Most of the products feature new patents. The new Dio BS-VI has 20 patent applications that have been filed in the country,” he informed.   Innovative features is probably one of the reasons HMSI was not so badly hit in the current slowdown that the auto industry is going through.

“The industry was down 16 per cent but we were slightly better at 15 per cent. We were able to maintain, even in these tough times, our market share of 27 per cent despite being the first mover to launch BS-VI products. They were costlier by about 10 to 14 per cent from the existing BS-IV. It was a challenge because there was a premium on the products and we were the only one selling BS-VI. And we were still able to maintain our market share,” Guleria said.

Honda’s India story has been successful, whether it is domestic sales or exports to other countries.

“We have sold over 23 million scooters in the 110-cc category since we started business in India in 2001. Dio happens to be the second-largest selling two-wheeler in the southern region. The Dio also happens to be the largest exported scooter from the country,” Guleria points out.

“Within the southern region, we are the market leaders for quite some time. Bengaluru was the first city we started selling our scooters in when we started our business in India. We have four factories and the biggest is in Karnataka (in Narasapura),” he remarked.

Prices of automobiles have gone up steadily and Guleria listed out the reasons. “The first was demonetisation. The GST change contributed to that. Then, we had the insurance premium going up as high as eight per cent in September 2018. In 2019, we had the combined brake system and antilock braking system norms come in, that increased the price. Now, we are making the transition to BS-VI. Combining all these percentages and the regular price increase that happened, anywhere between we have seen a rise of 20 and 25% compared to August 31, 2018,” he said.

While HMSI has been making steady strides towards changing its product portfolio to BS-VI, the obvious question is when they will introduce electric two-wheelers in the Indian market. “At Honda, we could shortly be starting our own feasibility survey. We have some products in the international market. So, we will get one of those electric scooters and conduct a study across markets.

“Then, based on the feasibility study, we need to further refine our strategy and see the way ahead. It will finally be decided based on the feasibility survey. When this feasibility survey is going on, there is no actual business. We are not starting to sell. It is only from the survey point of view to set our long-term strategy,” he explained.

He also felt there are challenges India faces before there is significant electrification of vehicles.

“The challenges are in terms of the infrastructure, product range and performance. These things need to be settled in the long term. Infrastructure is not in our hands but with performance, manufacturers need to do much more to meet the requirement of the customer.

And anything that is on subsidy cannot sustain for long. It has to be a real customer demand. Today, there are many electric vehicles available in the market, but the customer is still going for the gasoline vehicle,” he stated.

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