Buoyed by the success of its latest launches in India, Japanese car maker Honda Motor Co sees the country becoming its fourth largest market by 2017.
Its local unit Honda Cars India, which saw a growth of 83% last fiscal, has set an ambitious goal of selling 3 lakh cars by 2017, almost six times higher than its 2011-12 volumes.
This would put India only behind the US, China and Japan. At present, India is the sixth-biggest market for Honda globally.
The launch of compact sedan Amaze with its new diesel engine last year and the new City in January brought higher volumes for the company, which was once struggling to set its strong foothold in the country.
Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, managing officer, Honda Motor Co & representative of development, purchasing and production in Asia and Oceania region, told dna that 83% growth last fiscal was beyond expectations, and the next level of growth will be driven by new products and a stronger network.
The company managed to almost double its sales in fiscal 2013-14 to 134,399 units in the domestic market, from 54,427 units it sold in the country in fiscal 2011-12, as per the data by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
“We had to adopt to change in market conditions in India like currency fluctuations and increasing demand for diesel vehicles. Hence, we focused more on localising our products to address the currency fluctuation issue. Introduction of diesel engine also helped in expanding our offerings,” said Matsumoto.
The company is currently in the process of increasing its number of dealers, especially in Tier 2 and 3 cities, which will constitute 75% of its new dealers.
While on the new products side, Matsumoto said the company is now studying various segments, including a small car (below Brio).
“We realise that this market (small cars) is the biggest market in India but at the same time its the most difficult market to operate in. We want to be the most trusted company when it comes to customer satisfaction, quality, technology, etc. Hence, we are still evaluating.”
Honda Cars India on Thursday launched its Mobilio in Mumbai. The company has received almost 6,000 bookings since it started its pre-bookings on July 8. The company may look at ramping up capacity at its Tapukara, Rajasthan plant. It currently operates single shift at the plant, and will decide on the second shift depending on the response for Mobilio. Honda will also launch its new premium hatchback Jazz by end of this fiscal.