Japan’s second-largest car maker Honda Motor Company’s President and CEO Takeo Fukui was in the country to launch the third-generation Honda City. With a recession in the offing and sales under pressure, Fukui spoke to Sumant Banerji on the challenges and potential of operating in India.
On global slowdown
We have the experience of similar slowdowns in the economy in the last 60 years of operation. Because of our lean operations, we have been able to change our plans with minimal impact and therefore have been able to fare better than the industry even in mature markets like the US. The current recession will have less impact on Honda. We hope that the situation will improve in the coming months.
On the potential of the Indian market
The automobile industry in India is very challenging India accounts for 2.5 per cent of our global automobile sales, but the low penetration level here offers big potential for growth.
On sluggishness of the market here
The industry is currently under pressure due to rising input costs, high fuel prices and interest rates. However, we believe this is a temporary phase and will get over soon.
On more launches in India
The launch of the Civic Hybrid here earlier this year fulfilled our commitment of introducing the latest global environment friendly technologies. As far as fuel cell vehicles are concerned, we have already started leasing the FCX clarity in Japan and US. Currently there are no plans for bringing that car in India.
On Honda's small car strategy in India
We have already announced our plans to launch a premium hatchback car on the Jazz platform next year. We are also looking at developing a global car that is small, fuel efficient and light weight.