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Honda focuses on global cars as India models fail to attract buyers

Even its new SUV BR-V sold 2,193 units, while Hyundai Creta sold 8,835 units.

business Updated: Oct 27, 2016 13:37 IST
Sunny Sen
Honda Cars

Yoichiro Ueno, president and CEO of Honda Cars India, said that it was not about the quality, but that the company failed to understand customer requirements. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

On Tuesday, when Honda Cars India launched the hybrid Accord sedan, the company was making a statement – in the near term the Japanese auto giant will focus on bringing premium global products to India, as its emerging market cars such as the Brio, Mobilio and BR-V have failed to attract Indian buyers.

Even its new SUV BR-V sold 2,193 units, while Hyundai Creta sold 8,835 units.

Yoichiro Ueno, president and CEO of Honda Cars India, said that it was not about the quality, but that the company failed to understand customer requirements. “Those cars are doing really good in Thailand and Indonesia …. It was not meeting the customers’ requirements in India,” he said.

Recent surveys done by the company show that customers want Honda to hold a premium image in India. “So we want to implement more of them,” said Ueno.

Honda City, which is the company’s flagship in India was 36.2% of Honda’s total sales between April and September. It has seven other vehicles in its portfolio.

The company is also receiving a lot of queries on the Civic, and the compact SUV HR-V. Honda has already lined up new vehicles for the next two to three years, but none of cars based on the Brio platform are up for a full-body change.

However, Ueno said the research and development team was working on products to make them “more relevant in the future”. One thing that the company is working on is bold designs, while globally the carmaker is known for sophisticated designs.

Meanwhile, India has become a large exporter of components to Honda’s global plants in 15 countries, including the US, UK, Japan and Canada. “Global cars for more complicated,” said Uneo, and if Honda makes more global cars in India, it helps the company source more components, which can be exported.

Honda’s export revenue in 2016-17 is expected to be Rs 1,700 crore, up from Rs 330 crore, just five years ago.

That’s not all, Uneo is contemplating a wide range of hybrid international models. The Accord, to begin with. “Maybe we will have a hybrid City and a hybrid Jazz, but all of that depends on the affordability and acceptance of the technology,” said Uneo.

Honda, he said wants to make its cars more efficient and environment friendly, and implementing hybrid technology can be “a future strategy for Honda in India.”