'We are staying': Honda Cars quells rumour on leaving India
Honda Cars has reaffirmed its commitment to India amid rumours that the Japanese auto giant may soon shut shop or discontinue a number of its existing models from the lineup by next year. The carmaker has said it has no plans to shut India business, and in fact plans to scale it up in coming days. Speaking to news agency PTI, Takuya Tsumura, President and CEO at Honda Cars India, said, "We are staying. Why do we leave a market which is now the fourth largest market globally? We have been here for more than 20 years, so there is no reason to leave."
Honda Cars currently offers models like City, Amaze, WR-V and Jazz for customers in India. The Japanese auto giant launched the hybrid version of its flagship sedan City in hybrid avatar earlier this year. Next year, the Japanese carmaker will add a new mid-size SUV in its lineup. The new SUV will take on the segment leaders like Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos.
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The trigger for the rumour of Honda Cars leaving India was its decision to stop the production of Civic and CR-V in December, 2020 after it shut down the manufacturing facility in Greater Noida. Honda Cars had said that the decision was part of its global initiative to restructure. "We did some restructuring in the last few years and it was a bit of a tough time, but I can now say it is done, the company now has a healthy constitution," Tsumura added. Besides the Greater Noida facility, Honda Cars has another manufacturing hub located in Tapukara, Rajasthan.
Honda Cars has not had much success in the SUV segment despite trying out the likes of CR-V and WR-V. While the CR-V was discontinued earlier, WR-V sub-compact SUV has not been able to make its mark in a segment dominated by Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Hyundai. Honda, however, appeared confident about the prospects of the upcoming Creta, Seltos rival. "Well it would be hard to become number one player but still there will be some demand there so we want to attack that area," Tsumura told PTI.
The new SUV is likely to get the e:HEV hybrid powertrain that also powers the new City Hybrid sedan. Besides the Korean SUVs, its direct rivals will be the like of Toyota Urban Cruiser HyRyder and Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara SUVs, which are offered with strong hybrid options.