Japanese automaker Honda, which has a strong presence in the sedan segment, is now turning its focus on the fast-growing SUV market in the country with plans to launch a sports utility vehicle (SUV) model next year.
The company is currently in the process of developing the model. "We are recognising the market movement (towards SUVs). It is a global phenomenon so we are surely taking notice of that. Globally, we have a presence in the segment and we are considering what is best for India. We are planning an SUV model and plan to introduce it next year," Honda Cars India president and CEO Takuya Tsumura said.
Last year the automaker had confirmed that it was in the process of developing an India specific SUV.
When asked if the company would look at launching more than one SUV models in the market, he said, "We cannot disclose that right now but of course we always think about future models... looking at what needs to be done."
Mr Tsumura said that while the company is focusing at bolstering the SUV range, it would also keep adding to its sedan lineup.
"We have a long history with the City. It has been there for almost 25 years now with total sales of 8.5 lakh units sold. I believe the City brand is quite strong and we are getting numbers. We believe City and Amaze are strong brands and we are looking to continue with them. We will launch the SUV and continue with adding up to the lineup," Mr Tsumura stated.
The company has a strong presence in the sedan segment with Amaze and City and the market is likely to grow with original equipment manufacturers bringing in new models in the vertical, he added.
"Maybe there were no new launches happening in the vertical so the consumers were moving towards SUVs," Mr Tsumura stated. He noted that the company is through with the transformation process and is now looking to grow its business in the country.
"We needed to first make a very strong company constitution... We have merged the factory and we have tried to make our business constitution stronger, otherwise we cannot go into the future. We have already done that, and now we would like to utilise our assets to grow our business," said Mr Tsumura who took charge as president and CEO of the company on April 1.
In December 2020, Honda had announced the closure of manufacturing operations at its Greater Noida facility in Uttar Pradesh, thus consolidating its production activities at its second plant in Tapukara, Rajasthan.
Mr Tsumura said that while the company is still facing production issues due to chip shortage and other supply chain disruptions, it is also focussing at making India a prominent base for exports.
The automaker had shipped around 20,000 units last fiscal, and aims to log in the same kind of number this financial year as well, he noted.
"We are still struggling with part shortage issues...due to Covid in China and Russia-Ukraine situation... So the situation is not very clear... We can have visibility at the first and second tier suppliers but under that there are layers and that could be impacted," Mr Tsumura stated.
On sales outlook for the current fiscal, he said that the company is aiming for growth in domestic market and exports as well.