Japanese auto major Honda plans to launch five new SUVs, including a fully electric model, in India by 2030 as it tries to revive its fortune in the country, according to a senior company official.
The company on Tuesday unveiled its global mid-sized SUV Elevate in India which will take on the likes of Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos and Maruti Suzuki’s Grand Vitara.
A fully-electric version of the Elevate will be launched within three years. The automaker plans to launch Elevate over the next months coinciding with the festive season.
”Including the Elevate, we are planning to launch five SUVs by 2030. So that’s our pipeline now,” Honda Cars India President & CEO Takuya Tsumura told PTI in an interview here.
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With the Elevate, Honda is looking to strengthen its presence in the Indian passenger vehicles market, where it is represented by sedans City and Amaze at present, and enter the fast growing SUV segment.
He said, currently the sedans account for almost 10 per cent of the overall PV market and Honda’s participation is restricted in that segment.
While sedans City and Amaze are doing well in that 10 per cent of the market, Tsumura said,”On the other hand in the growing market SUVs are having more than 40 per cent and the segment is growing year by year. So, having the new SUV will be very important for us as we can participate in 50 per cent of the overall market…” Going forward, he said Elevate will be the ”mainstream” product for Honda in India and the following models will play in the premium segment. Elevate comes with active and passive safety technologies such as advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).
India will be the first market where it will be launched and Honda aims to make its operations here as an export hub for the model. When asked about Honda’s plans for electric vehicles (EV) in India, Tsumura said the company is planning a fully electric SUV based on the Elevate platform.
”We are planning to introduce it within three years,” he said, adding Honda has decided to go directly to battery electric vehicle for Elevate and hence the model will not have a hybrid version.
Asked about the investments on the new models and preparation for local production of the EV, he declined to comment saying it is a work in progress. Tsumura said the new SUV will be exported to various geographies across the globe.
Honda Cars India, which was once a significant player in the Indian PV market, has slipped down the pecking order in the past few years with new entrants like Kia overtaking it in sales.
Due to lack of demand for its vehicles, the company underwent organisational restructuring, including stoppage of production at its Greater Noida plant and offering voluntary retirement schemes to employees. It rolls out vehicles from the Tapukara plant in Rajasthan.
The company is now looking towards a fresh journey with renewed vigour in India. ”For two consecutive years after some restructuring project happened, we are in a very healthy business cycle, even one of the highest profits record we made. Now, our operation is healthy I can say,” Tsumura said.
Until the last fiscal year, the company produced 540 units per day, he said adding ”now, we already shifted it up to 660 units production per day because we need certain parts speed to prepare for the new model launch”.
He further said,”Next fiscal year we are still planning to increase.” In terms of sales also, Tsumura said,”Specially in the second half of this year, we are planning to improve more than 35 per cent and we believe that it is possible.” The company will also enhance exports of its sedans City and Amaze, he added. In FY23, Honda Cars India produced 1.2 lakh units and is targeting to increase it to 1.7 lakh units by FY25, he added.
Honda Motor Co Head of Regional Unit Asia and Oceania Toshio Kuwahara said being the third largest automotive market globally, India is an important market for the Japanese automaker.
He said exports from India have also increased and the country is one of the most important export hubs for the company globally. In line with the company’s carbon neutrality targets, 100 per cent of sales across the globe, including India will be from battery electric and fuel cell vehicles by 2040, he noted.