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Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India all set to stun rivals
Published on 24 Aug. 2009 12:18 AM IST
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It’s time for Indian bike makers to roll up their sleeves. The Japs are at it again. This time, Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI), is planning a blitzkrieg on the Indian two-wheeler market. Starting with the launch of a mass-market bike in January next year, HMSI has plans to launch more than four models in the next two to three years, including a 250cc motorcycle in 2011. According to an HMSI official who did not wish to be named, the mass-market bike is code-named the KWSA (“A” stands for any model in the development state). It is a 110-cc motorcycle with a radical rear grip, on which HMSI is betting heavily to break the stranglehold of market leader Hero Honda. HMSI over a very short period of time has done well to wrest away 14% of the market share from its rivals with a sizeable share in the gearless scooter segment. But Hero Honda, which sells more than half of the motorcycles sold in this country, has been unshakeable in the entry-level and executive segments (100cc-135cc) so far, with hot selling models such as the CD-Dawn, Splendor and Passion holding fort. But HMSI is not done yet. It plans to up the ante by launching a new version of its 125-cc motorcycle, Shine. Then, it has plans to follow it up with a new variant of the 125-cc Stunner. This comes on the back of the fuel-injected Stunner that the company launched just recently. “The new Stunner will have cosmetic changes and certain components will be finished in matte black,” says the HMSI official. Then, on the cards there is also a new version of the company’s 150-cc bike, Unicorn. Says Vaishali Jajoo, an auto analyst with Mumbai-based brokerage firm, Angel Broking: “HMSI has been very successful in the scooter segment so far. But the executive motorcycle segment (125cc) is growing faster than the entry-level segment now. So two-wheeler makers will be focusing on this segment a lot more now.” But more importantly, it will be HMSI’s 250cc model that will have a very big role to play, according to the HMSI official. This bike will be manufactured here and not be imported as a CBU, in contrast to other two-wheeler makers such as Bajaj Auto which has plans to import bikes which are 250cc and above. And HMSI might also use India as a sourcing hub for the motorcycle, to supply its components to overseas markets such as Thailand, where the bike will also be supposedly sold. But when contacted this is all an HMSI spokesman had to say: “The new Stunner has already been launched in May this year and the mass segment bike is scheduled to be launched next year. We will keep you updated on the other launches as and when we plan them.” But to prop up its plans, HMSI has already started increasing its manufacturing capacity. The motorcycle plant of HMSI at Manesar, which has a capacity of churning out 2000 units everyday (60,000 units in a month), has got a facelift with a new Marshall conveyor belt installed. This belt will help increase productivity by around 100%, which means another 60,000 units per month. Similarly, a new conveyor belt is also waiting to be installed at HMSI’s scooter plant that produces 2000 units per day. Employees at HMSI expect the output of the scooter plant to go up by another 2000 units once the belt is installed and ready. So, is it finally time to say, “Tora! Tora! Tora!”

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