Honda is planning to revitalise its motorcycle business in India, with the launch of new India-specific motorcycles in the near future
Honda has enjoyed a brilliant success in the Indian two-wheeler market, thanks to its range of automatic scooters. During the last financial year, almost 70 per cent of Honda’s sales came from scooters, most of which were contributed by the Activa. Sadly, the brand hasn’t enjoyed the same popularity in the motorcycle end of the market.
Honda now wishes to reinvigorate its motorcycle business as well, with new India-specific bikes. The recently-launched Hornet 2.0 is the perfect example; it is a small-capacity, affordable motorcycle, designed to be a sporty commuter. Honda also has its eyes set on the premium end of the spectrum, the one which is dominated by Royal Enfield.
Royal Enfield has largely been unchallenged in India, because of its niche market placement. The brand specialises in retro-styled motorcycles, and until the arrival of Jawa, it had no direct competitor. Now though, with competition stiffening, there are more bikes available in the same range as Royal Enfield products, and Honda wishes to have a piece of that pie as well.
Atsushi Ogata, President, CEO and Managing Director, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, was quoted saying: “We do not have that kind of India-oriented fun bike. We have several big bikes selling in India in limited quantities. Of course we must study this kind of new category. Sooner than later you can see an answer on this.”
While Honda is still considering which motorcycle would be best suited for such a step, some sources claim that the Japanese brand might be planning to introduce a retro-themed roadster in India. Interestingly, Royal Enfield is also working on a roadster for our market, which will be called either Sherpa or Hunter, and will reportedly be powered by a 250cc engine.
Honda had announced plans to launch a Royal Enfield challenger in India back in 2017 as well, but due to cost concerns, the plan was scrapped. Now though, the market has matured, and buyers are willing to spend a lot more money for a premium motorcycle. The upcoming Honda motorcycle, however, would probably not be a CKD import, rather it will likely be manufactured locally.