India Yamaha Motor may have given up on mass-market motorcycles but Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) has faith. Speaking in an interview, Minoru Kato, President, HMSI said that the two-wheeler brand ‘will not give up on the mass market’.
Currently, HMSI is the second largest two-wheeler brand in the Indian market. In October, the HMSI sold a total of 4,90,135 units. During the same period, Hero MotoCorp clocked 7,16,059 units, crossing the seven lakh mark for the fourth occasion in the current fiscal. Hero Splendor’s sales surpassed the Honda Activa in October, making it the largest selling two-wheeler in the Indian market for two consecutive months. In the current financial year, Honda Activa led the two-wheeler sales in the month of April, June, July and August while the Hero Splendor was on top of the charts in May, September and October.
Speaking to Economic Times, Kato said:
Our philosophy is to never give up. However, within the motorcycle segment, we have the No. 1 position in 125cc with the Shine. Currently, we have the Livo and Dream Series in 110cc, then we have 125cc with the Shine. We are going to upgrade our motorcycles with more fuel efficiency and good ride handling. Yes, customers are preferring the Hero Splendor, but we will not give up on mass market.
Elaborating about the HMSI’s product strategy, Kato added that the company would introduce new products across different displacements post the BS-VI implementation. He said:
We have a strong intention to introduce new products in the premium segment in the future, post the BS VI emission norms implementation (April 2020), right from 160, 200 and 300cc segments… they hold a big potential. We have been conducting a lot of surveys to understand what segment we should get into in the future — a cruiser or a street bike, etc.
However, he added that the company needs to be cautious about entering the cruiser market. A report from last month stated that HMSI continues to be interested in the niche segment that Royal Enfield has outright control over, but has not found a solution. Kato said:
We need to be careful with the cruiser. Globally cruisers have a relaxed riding position, but people (here) call Royal Enfield a cruiser which has largely a street-bike stance. So, we need to be careful in understanding Indian customer needs and come out with the right solution.
In October, Y.S Guleria, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, HMSI, told IAB that all its BS-VI compliant products, including scooters, would benefit from fuel injection system. Guleria stated that the cost is going to be higher in meeting the new emission norms and the result would be a substantial increase in the final prices.