Japanese giant Honda has been in India since 2001 as the entity Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI). Initially, it treaded a cautious path in India with Hero as its partner. According to their pact, it was forbidden from competing with Hero in the segment of motorcycles. However, scooters were not an off-limit area as Hero did not have any products in that category.
The brand Honda wasn’t to remain shackled for long, its traditional reliability and safety being a big go-to for the Indian customers. Slowly and steadily, it began rising along the ladder, and the pact with Hero was shattered two years back. After the parting of ways, Honda has grown faster than any other automaker in India. It has set its target on attaining the numero uno status in India, and it does make no bones about it.
The Achilles’ Heel of HMSI has been a disproportionate gap in the demand and supply areas. Over the years, Honda’s brand has built such a strong following that it entails a waiting period of six months, if not more, at some places. To set the house in order, the corporation has started flexing its arms. Today, it inaugurated its 3rd Indian plant in the Narsapura area of Kolar, Karnataka.
Honda Karnataka Plant Details
Situated at a distance of 52 km from Bangalore, this plant occupies a sprawling 96 acres. It has about 4,500 employees on its payroll, and has soaked up a total investment of 1,350 crores. This plant has a production capacity of 12 lakh units in Phase 1, and it can be leveraged by another 6 lakh units in Phase 2. As a veiled threat to all other automakers, Honda has declared that the Narsapura plant will start chugging from June, and by the end of this fiscal the commencement of Phase 2 would have been completed to take production to the peak of 18 lakh units. It is therefore not surprising that Honda claimed a whopping 64% increase in its total annual production capacity to 46 lakh units, by the end of this fiscal.
The new plant, along with Honda’s existing Manesar and Tapukara plants, is imperative to the corporation’s “Dreams” of becoming the undisputed leader in the Indian 2-wheeler market. Honda was also proud to announce that it is a “Green Plant”, realizing over 30% of its annual water demand by making use of internal rain water harvesting system. This plant is actually Honda’s most environmentally responsible plant, boasting of zero liquid discharge.
It is equipped with more advanced machining automation, high speed transfer line, robotic welding and painting of frame parts to set a benchmark in the 2 wheeler industry. Mr. Yoshiyuki, Managing Officer of Honda India, stressed upon the fact that India is an important market for them, and it assumes even more importance in the current fiscal year when the global sales chart is expected to soar from the previous years’ numbers. In addition, he was happy to announce that out of the 4,500 positions in the plant, nearly 90% were being offered to locals.
Honda also informs that the mass production of Dream Yuga as well as the Activa will start from June in this plant. They also said that Honda occupied the topmost position in Bengaluru, which had the highest demand for two-wheelers among all cities of India.
Honda has set 2015-16 as a time window for attaining the pole position among all 2-wheeler manufacturers in India. With the Narsapura plant inauguration, an important checkpoint seems to have been captured. It is therefore not surprising if we see the reduction in the waiting period associated with Honda’s popular models. This aggressive move by Honda has set the warning bells tolling for other manufacturers, especially for Chakan-based Bajaj and Honda’s erstwhile partner, Hero. Expect the competition to spill over to the commuter segment, which has been Hero’s bastion, but was actually built with Honda’s help over the years.