Auto Expo 2018: Honda CEO Yoichiro Ueno talks about new offerings


The Auto Expo 2018 was charged with electric car offerings. Catch Yoichiro Ueno, President & CEO, Honda Cars talks about new product offerings in an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q: Honda sales have been growing at a decent clip, 2017 has been good year for the company. How do you see the coming fiscal, you are launching new models as well, can you give us an outlook on the sales front?

A: Amaze is one of the volume cars, so if this model is successful, I think we can expect not only a brand image but also quite a bit of volume. So, hopefully we can make growth higher than industry average.

Q: Are you looking at a single digit or double digit kind of growth?

A: We expect market growth of at least 6-7 percent. So, we aim to grow higher than that, maybe close to double digits. However we are still making plan for the next fiscal year.

Q: In terms of Honda Amaze, could you speak a little bit about the product itself, how much time and investment has gone into it and where was it developed, was it developed in India or in Japan or Thailand?

A: Investment we don’t share, however the localisation is very high. So, including HCIL and also our suppliers, the investment prospect is large.

The car was developed mainly by HRAP R&D in Thailand but R&D Japan and R&D India also supported but mainly developed by Thailand.

Q: Many people were expecting the HR-V also to be showcased here today. Do we have a confirmation on when do we see the actual launch of HR-V?

A: We are making kind of an assessment for this. HR-V is very successful in many countries and we are receiving a lot of requests or enquiries from customers and our dealers. So, we are making assessment.

India is a very price sensitive market. So the most important thing is to meet the customers’ expectations of price range. Our assessment is mainly about whether we can achieve the reasonable acceptable price.

Q: Would that mean you are doing away with the Brio because only Brio is not doing that good as compared to Jazz or WR-V or Amaze. So, what are your plans for Brio?

A: We have just made a MMC last year, so we are trying to continue this model. The volume is small but it is capturing quite a steady number of customers and also it is very important to capture the first time buyers.

Q: 75 percent of the market is made of hatchbacks, it is a segment where you are grossly under represented with the Brio. Do we see that such sort of a continuance going forward or do we see Honda playing a larger role in the hatchback segment?

A: 75 percent is not just hatchback, it is sub 4 meters, so it includes sedan segment. Customers in India have a preference for small cars, however it is also true that there is tax benefit in making small cars. So, it really depends on the government policy and direction. We are requesting to the government that if the tax difference becomes moderate then in that case we can bring more variety of cars to meet variety of customers demand. As income level of the customers keep on increasing, it could be beneficial to bring some bigger or premium vehicles, maybe demand would be much stronger in the near future.

Q: If you could tell us about Honda India’s EV strategy?

A: In order to set up a strategy we need to have a roadmap. So, what is the plan for making a battery charging station because otherwise it cannot be used. What kind of an electric vehicle society India is trying to achieve because there are a variety of electric vehicles including short range EV, long range EV. The plan for establishing charging station is not confirmed yet and also tax – tax benefit is also important.

Q: You won’t be manufacturing any EV in India?

A: It depends on the policy.

Q: We had other manufactures talking about the price at which an EV can be offered. In your assessment what do you think can be a ballpark figure as to minimum this much needs to be charged for a EV?

A: It depends on the range of the car. Roughly speaking EV with same size with the combustional engines would be almost 1.5 times or double the price. India is a very price sensitive market, so whether customers can accept that, I think it maybe needs some subsidy.moneycontrol