In its over a decade-long presence in the country, Japanese car major Honda Siel Cars India has established itself firmly as a premium car manufacturer — a position coveted by almost all manufacturers. However, due to the absence of a small car in its portfolio, Honda Siel has been remained a fringe player in the overall market and has concentrated in a zone of it own. The company's new President and CEO, Takashi Nagai , shares with Hindustan Times his vision for the company in India — including a small car costing less than R5 lakh by next year — and talks about India's impact on Honda's global strategy.
What is the roadmap for Honda in India? Are you happy at where you are today?
We sold around 60,000 cars last year and our cars are very well accepted in India. However, I am never happy with whatever we do and always want to do more. Given the potential 60,000 is not good enough and I want to double it beyond 1 lakh and more in the next 2-3 years.
What new products will Honda bring to India?
Right now we are very focused on the successful launch of the small car based on the concept we showcased in the New Delhi auto expo earlier this year.
The car will be launched first in Thailand and then come to India by the third quarter (Oct-Dec 2011). This car should give us incremental volumes and help double our sales. I am hopeful it will also necessitate the starting of car assembly in our second plant at Tapukara.
Which segment will this car cater to and who will be its competitors?
If we have to get the volumes, we need to hit the market where there is critical mass. The Maruti Swift and Hyundai i10 range is very voluminous and this car will compete with them. It will cost less than Rs5 lakh.