Masahiro Takedagawa, chief executive of Honda Siel Cars India Limited, Honda Motor Company’s India subsidiary, was in Mumbai to unveil the new Honda Accord. In an interview with Suprotip Ghosh, he speaks about how Honda is committed to bring in more global cars, including a multi-utility vehicle and another sports utility vehicle, to satisfy Indian customers who want global cars, and how India is the ‘lead country’ in the development of Honda’s new small car, being developed for a new, low-cost global market.
Where does Honda’s new small car platform stand right now?
We are working on it. It is still three to four years away. We have engineers in India and Japan who are associated with the project. Honda’s philosophy is different from many of our competitors. We believe in global models. In that sense, all cars are manufactured to Honda’s quality standards. However, for this new car, India is the ‘lead country’. Like Accord, Civic and CR-V had the United States as the lead country. The Jazz’s lead country was Japan. A lead country is where we focus during development of a particular vehicle.
So there is no India design per se, like Suzuki is doing with the A-Star?
All Honda cars follow a definite design pattern. We do not design cars for countries. Everything is designed with a global view. However, there would be India-specific modifications like in the new Accord, where we have to take account of the road conditions, the dust, the heat and the colour preference of Indian customers.
Are you planning to expand your line-up? You do not have a multi-utility vehicle (MUV) on the lines of the Innova in India.
We are going to have a MUV in India soon; we are working on the details. There is also a market for a new sports utility vehicle (SUV). We might not be selling as many cars as many of our competitors in India, and in the world, but we are making a nice profit on our existing line-up, which we do not need to disclose. Our investors and customers are happy.
That would not be on the lines of your brand perception. You are perceived to be a premium brand here in India.
It is our customers who give us the premium brand tag. We want to bring in quality vehicles to India. There is a lifecycle for all our cars, which is a four to five year period. India is one of the most important among all our markets. We have just been here for 10 years. It will take time to roll out the range of models we have in markets such as Japan or the US.