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New Honda SUV to be launched in India before festive season in 2023

The lack of SUV models has adversely impacted the volumes and thereby the market share of Honda.

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Honda SUV
Honda is expecting the new SUV to be a volume driver like City and Amaze brands. (Representative image)

In Short

  • The new SUV will be manufactured at the Tapukara plant.
  • The vehicle might get a hybrid option.
  • Honda can consider exporting the SUV.

By Varun Singh: Honda Cars India will launch its new sport utility vehicle (SUV) just before the commencement of the festive season in 2023. The automaker currently sells models like City e:HEV (hybrid), fifth-generation City, fourth-generation City, Amaze, WR-V and Jazz in the country.

While the development process for this 'India-focussed' SUV is almost complete, Honda will now begin factory preparations, followed by the pre-production operations. Like the company's other models, the new SUV will be manufactured at its Tapukara plant, which is located in Alwar district of Rajasthan.

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Honda's Tapukara plant has an annual installed production capacity of 1,80,000 units. However, the capacity utilisation currently stands just above 60 per cent. The company will target utilising the complete capacity following the launch of the new SUV. The capacity might be increased to 2,00,000 units in case the demand rises.

Talking to India Today, Honda's marketing and sales vice president Kunal Behl said that the new SUV will hit the Indian market "before the festive period of next year." Based on Honda's 'man maximum, machine minimum' philosophy, the vehicle has been designed keeping in mind the space, technology, durability and mileage requirements of the customers, he added.

While Behl did not share details about the specifications and powertrains of the new SUV, Honda might consider bringing a hybrid variant. "So hybrid is a good powertrain that we have tested with City. We will evaluate every option with regard to the new SUV," he said.

Honda is also banking on the new SUV to be its third volume pillar after City and Amaze brands. While the company sold 1,83,787 units in the domestic market in FY 2018-19, its sales dropped to 1,02,016 units in FY 2019-20 and further to 82,074 units in FY 2020-21. There was some recovery at 85,609 units in FY 2021-22.

The lack of SUV options and rising competition from rival brands have resulted in Honda consistently losing its share in the passenger vehicle (PV) segment. From 5.44 per cent in FY 2018-19, the company's share declined to 3.67 per cent in FY 2019-20, 3.02 per cent in FY 2020-21 and 2.79 per cent in FY 2021-22.

"Not being in the SUV segment is something we are missing. But we still believe that sedans have been a preferred choice. Although the SUV segment is growing, there will be a big demand for sedans and Honda has been a very strong player in the sedan market. Having said that, now we are going to explore and come up very strongly in the SUV segment," Behl noted.

For reference, the share of the sedan segment in the PV market stood at only 10.2 per cent in FY 2021-22 in comparison to 40.1 per cent of the SUV segment.

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Although the new SUV is mainly for the domestic market, Behl said that Honda could consider exporting it as well. At present, the company exports the fifth-generation City, Amaze, WR-V and Jazz.

By the end of the current fiscal, Honda will discontinue the fourth-generation City, WR-V and Jazz as well. It axed Civic and CR-V from its line-up in December 2020, when the manufacturing operations were halted at its plant located in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

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