Primary volume generators for Honda in motorcycle segment include CB Shine and Unicorn 160
While Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI) leads in scooters, its ex-partner Hero dominates the commuter motorcycle segment. Hero bikes like Splendor and HF Deluxe are currently the preferred options in commuter segment. Things could change in future, as Honda is planning to launch an affordable commuter bike that will primarily rival Hero Splendor. This has been confirmed by Atsushi Ogata, President of HMSI in a recent interaction with ET Auto.
Honda new commuter bike
Honda’s existing commuter motorcycle range has CD110 Dream and Livo. However, none of these are comparable to the high sale volumes generated by Hero Splendor. Ogata has also mentioned that CD110 hasn’t been able to match customer expectations in commuter segment. CD110 Dream is currently the most affordable Honda bike, available at a starting price of around Rs 63k (ex-showroom, Delhi). This works out cheaper than Splendor Plus that starts at around Rs 69k.
One option for Honda is to focus on fuel efficiency, which is one of the key factors that has made Splendor so popular. Honda must be well-aware of this, as the Hero-Honda combine had started out the journey with their ‘Fill it, shut it, forget it’ campaign. Launched in 1984, Hero-Honda partnership had lasted for around 26 years. They decided to part ways in 2010 due to growing friction in terms of business objectives.
Being a global player and with a much longer history, Honda surely has the technological edge. It has the capabilities to come up with a formidable rival to Hero Splendor. Or it can improve existing CD110 by introducing some new features such as engine start-stop system. Honda could also perform some tweaks to make CD110 just as nimble as Splendor.
It will be interesting to see Honda aggressively targeting the entry-level commuter segment. While Suzuki and Yamaha have decided to stay away, Honda will continue to face competition from Bajaj and TVS in addition to Hero MotorCorp.
Honda sales analysis
As of now, close to 50% of HMSI sales come from its Activa scooter. Second bestseller is CB Shine, followed by Unicorn 160. In 200cc to 500cc segment, Honda’s offerings are fairly limited. Honda H’ness CB350 has registered consistent numbers every month, but it trails behind rivals by a significant margin.
Honda also has limited presence in sport biking segment, which is dominated by Bajaj, KTM, and Yamaha. Honda could target these segments as well in future. Earlier this year in January, the company had expanded its middleweight portfolio to include CB300R. The bike was launched at an introductory price of Rs 2.77 lakh. It was available earlier in BS4 format and was quite popular.
The bike has a sporty profile and comes with features such as golden USD forks, all-LED lighting, smartphone connectivity, USB charging port and assist and slipper clutch. CB300R can help Honda strengthen its position in 200cc-500cc motorcycle segment.