New Delhi: Japanese auto major Honda Motor Co on Monday said it could become the number one two-wheeler maker in India by 2015-16 if the current market slowdown prolonged.
The company, which on Monday unveiled its new 150 cc bike CB Trigger, termed Bajaj Auto as a more formidable rival than erstwhile partner Hero MotoCorp, the present market leader.
Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Pvt Ltd (HMSI)—the Indian two-wheeler arm of Honda-- is at second position in terms of sales of two-wheelers in the country, after Hero MotoCorp. Bajaj Auto occupies the third position.
According to industry body, SIAM's data, HMSI has sold 23.67 lakh units during April, 2012 and February, 2013, Bajaj Auto's sales stood at 22.82 lakh units. Hero's total sales was 54.61 lakh units during the same period.
"Today the market is almost 1.4 crore (units) in India. So, if (it) remains (at the) same level, no growth happening, we may become number one in 2015 or 16," Honda Motor Co's Operating Officer Shinji Aoyama told reporters here.
He added Honda sees Bajaj is as a bigger rival and not its erstwhile partner Hero.
"In terms of numbers, still Hero is number one but very frankly speaking, the consolidated power, including R&D, sales network there, including many of these elements, I think Bajaj is very strong. Bajaj is very good at creating alliance..." he said.
When asked about its rivalry with the Hero group, he said that the market leader will continue to lose its share, while his firm will continue to grow its shares.
"You will witness actually HMSI is gaining market share while Hero is losing the market share. The trend will continue," Aoyama said.
Besides, the HMSI will be launching 3-4 more models of two-wheelers in the current financial year, to expand its market share and has started the process of exploring new locations to set up a new plant.
When asked whether Honda is looking for any new partnerships in India after Hero MotoCorp, Aoyama said that his firm is not looking to forge any partnership in the country. However, the Japanese automaker will continue to provide technology to Hero group till 2014 as per the termination agreement of its alliance.
Noting that the company will have production capacity of 4 million units by March 2014, he said that upcoming 1.2 million units plant in Karnataka is expected to begin production "in next 3 months".
The company is also expanding its reach by opening one touch point, which includes new dealers and service centres, every day in India.
Aoyama also said that HMSI's total turnover is expected to be at Rs 12,000 crore in the current fiscal and the Indian unit accounts for 14-15 percent of Honda's global revenues in the two-wheeler segment.
In terms of sales, India is the fastest growing market for Honda and accounts for around 18 percent of its total global sales in two-wheeler segment. The company is aiming to increase it to 25 percent by 2016.
Meanwhile, the company on Monday unveiled a new 150cc CB Trigger bike to take on the rivals like Bajaj Auto's Pulsar. Dispatches of the new bike, which comes with Honda's combi brake system and promises a 60 kilo metres per hour mileage, will begin by April-end.
The company, however, did not disclose its price and said that it will be "competitive" with HMSI's rivals.
First Published: Monday, March 11, 2013, 18:57