Can Honda Motorcycle beat Eicher Motors' Royal Enfield bikes in its own backyard?

Honda Motor Company, the Japanese motorcycle giant and one of the pillars of India's fast-growing two-wheeler industry, will now be betting big on the country's middle-weight motorcycle category.

This will directly pit the company against the home-grown Eicher Motors's Royal Enfield bikes, which have commanded significant market share over the past few years amid growing demand from the country's young aspiring luxury bike lovers.

In order to ramp up its plans here, Honda Motor has moved some its engineers from Thailand and Japan to India for making a new concept mid-sized motorcycle.

“We (have) already allocated the people, some from Thailand and some from Japan to India to make a new concept mid-sized motorcycle in India,” Noriaki Abe, president and chief executive officer (CEO) at Asian Honda Motor Co. Ltd, told the Mint newspaper.

Besides making these motorcycles in India, Honda Motor also plans to export the product to Japan, although demand for two-wheeler motorcycles have been shrinking there for quite some time.

Image courtesy: Honda

Image courtesy: Honda

Some of the motorcycles from the Honda stable in India are Honda CB Trigger, Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler, Honda Twister and Honda CBG Stunner.

The present Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India is the fourth installment of the company's presence in India. Previously, the company's presence in India was through several joint ventures beginning with Kinetic Honda Motor Ltd between 1984-1998, followed by Hero Honda JV from 1984-2011 and Honda Siel Cars India between 1995-2012.

However, the company's plans to make it big in India's middleweight motorcycle segment may not be that easy, as Royal Enfield bikes already has a cult following here.

Royal Enfield reported a 18.88 percent jump in total sales at 58,439 units in February as against 49,156 units sold in February 2016.

Exports during the month grew by 7.11 percent to 1,702 units as compared to 1,589 units in February 2016.

Between April 2016 and February this year, Eicher Motors clocked robust volume of 592,558 unit, a 32 percent rise year on year.

Not just that, Eicher Motors CEO Siddhartha Lal has been eyeing overseas markets for its 250cc and 750cc bikes, which are priced between $3,000 and $7,000, the Mint report added. The company's growing presence in overseas markets can be gauged from the fact that it exports rose 70.56 percent at 13,819 biks between April-February.

Despite a stiff competition, Honda can still make a big impact in the middle-weight motorcycles segment here as India provides a big cost advantage to the company.

Updated Date: Mar 17, 2017 11:51 AM

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