NEW DELHI SHOW: India launches new Honda baby
Honda Siel Cars India (HSCI) has chosen the country for the world premiere of a concept car for the first time - fitting as the New Small Concept previews a model being developed for emerging markets.
It will also go on sale in countries such as China and Brazil but a Honda Europe spokesman said there were no plans to bring it here and that was unlikely to change. Honda's current entry-level model is the larger City sedan built primarily in Thailand and India, mainly for emerging markets, but it has also been launched in New Zealand.
Honda Motor executive vice president Koichi Kondo said at the New Delhi motor show the automaker would price the new five-seat car, to be launched in 2011, at under INR500,000 (US$10,823).
Toyota unveiled a rival called the Etios while Nissan Motor, already sourcing a Pixo-badged OEM variant of Maruti Suzuki's Alto, is also planning an entry-level car for India, with production of both scheduled to begin this year.
Honda currently markets itself as a premium brand in India, where it is a minor player with sales of just 58,285 cars in January-November of last year, giving it a market share of 2.9%, according to Reuters.
HSCI, a joint venture between Honda and India's Siel, expects sales to rise by as much as 27% in the fiscal year to March driven by improved consumer sentiment. The company expects to sell 60,000-70,000 cars in 2009/10 fiscal year, up from about 55,000 a year ago, Jnaneswar Sen, head of marketing, told the news agency.
Honda said the new car is a "true Honda" with futuristic design with maximum cabin space. There is some resemblance to the second generation City (Jazz) launched in the late 1980s and the 'tailgated' three-door Civic from the mid-1980s.
Honda said a wide platform with a stable centre of gravity was adopted to create a highly efficient compact size car without compromising on the cabin space hence greater passenger comfort.
It was developed at the automaker's automobile R&D centre in Japan.
Kondo said India was "the lead country for our research and development work on the New Small Concept. The new model based on this concept will be a global car with features to suit the needs of India customers."