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Honda to sell high performance bikes at affordable range in India

PTI 09 Nov 2014, 14:22:17 PM IST

Valencia (Spain): Japanese auto major Honda is looking to rev up the sales of high performance bikes in the Indian market with plans to assemble them in India and sell them at an affordable price.

The company's two-wheeler Indian arm Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) will start the programme with its CBR650 model that will be launched in the first half of next year.

At present in the high-end category, HMSI sells only imported motorcycles with prices ranging from Rs. 14 lakh to Rs. 31 lakh. It is seeking to tap the performance segment at affordable range by offering its upcoming model CBR650 at less than Rs. 10 lakh.

“India is still a predominantly commuter motorcycle market but we are also looking to tap the higher end, enthusiasts segment. Our aim is to make the high-end segment affordable by assembling in India,” HMSI President and CEO Keita Muramatsu told PTI here.

He further said: “We will launch our CBR650 model in the first half of next year. This will be assembled in India.”

He said in future, depending on market demand and learnings from the CBR650, the company would look to assemble more high performance motorcycles in India.

“Manufacturing smaller bikes is completely different from assembling the high-end bikes with sophisticated technologies.

So, the CBR650 is our first step to gain experience of assembling such a high-end bike in India. Once we do that and depending on the market demand, we may consider assembling and selling more high performance bikes in India,” Muramatsu said.

The high performance motorcycle models that Honda currently sells in India include the Gold Wing 1800, VT1300 CX, VFR1200F, CBR1000 RR and CB1000 R.

HMSI sells around 100 units annually of these bikes. It is looking to increase it further by bringing new models in the lower price band.

“The high-end motorcycle market in India is about 3,000 units a year but the majority of sales are coming from the sub-Rs 10 lakh models. So with CBR650, which will be our first high performance assembled bike in India, we will be able to sell at below Rs. 10 lakh and we expect our volume to rise in the segment,” HMSI Vice-President YS Guleria said.

The CBR650 will be a bike powered by an engine with four cylinders and the company is still considering whether it would be assembled from semi-knocked down or completely knocked down imported form.

HMSI has been gaining momentum quickly in the mass segment two-wheelers in India. In the April-October period this fiscal, the company sold 25,77,814 units against 20,41,411 units in the year-ago period, up 17 per cent.