Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) is the last remaining two-wheeler company that is yet to have plans for its electric vehicles foray as the list of new launches by its rivals and a host of start-ups becomes longer by the day.
Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto, TVS Motor Company and even Royal Enfield have shared plans which include multi-crore investments for products, factories, charging infrastructure and an enabling eco-system for electric vehicles.
HMSI, which is the country’s second largest two-wheeler maker with popular products under brands such as Activa, Shine and Unicorn, has not announced any EV plans thus far prompting Honda’s dealers to raise questions.
Atsushi Ogata, President, Managing Director and CEO, HMSI said, “I am under pressure because during my market visits our dealers ask me what the EV strategy of Honda is. Please allow me to give my reply not today. But I will find out different opportunity to communicate with the media in future.”
Companies like Hero Electric, Bharat Forge and start-ups like Ather Energy and Ola Electric are pumping in investments to not only add new electric two-wheelers but raise manufacturing capacity in the hope to entice customers to give up petrol-powered two-wheelers and switch to battery-powered electric vehicles instead.
Ogata was taking questions from the press on the sidelines of launching the CB200X, an adventure tourer motorcycle priced at Rs 1.44 lakh (ex-showroom, Gurugram). The bike only has the Hero XPulse to compete against in its segment. The launch comes weeks before the start of the festive period but amid the worst supply chain crisis witnessed by the automotive industry.
“We may have some effect of the semiconductor shortage due to the pandemic on some specific models. The festival season is the most important period for us and we are trying to communicate to some specific suppliers to avoid a negative impact on sales. We are also trying to communicate with our customers waiting for our product to avoid any negative impact,” Ogata added.
In line with its rivals, HMSI too has increased the prices of its models due to the sustained increase in raw material costs like steel and precious metals. The company however is trying to reduce the cost burden to be passed on to the consumer which otherwise would hurt demand.
“Cost of some raw materials have drastically increased since the beginning of this year. We are forced to revise our price quarter by quarter. But fortunately, the raw material prices are stabilizing because of demand recovery. We are trying to reduce the price burden on the customer as much as possible including our effort to reduce the price through our suppliers,” Ogata added.
Senior officials of HMSI further added that there has been sustained pick-up in interest for Honda products which is giving it the confidence for the festive season.
“The market feedback we are receiving and the market data in terms of enquiry footfalls, website and social media traffic indicate that sales momentum will continue up to festivals,” said Y S Guleria, Director, HMSI.
To further expand its reach in the market HMSI will add 1,000 consumer touch points within three years which will take its total to 7,000 touch points.