Honda plans to launch city-friendly motorcycle

Two-wheeler maker Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honda Motor Company, Japan, plans to launch a new motorcycle during the first half of FY09. The new motorcycle would be launched to suit the conditions in cities, N K Rattan, divisional head, HMSI, said while unveiling its new scooter Aviator. He declined to elaborate on the new model. During 2007-08, the launch of revamped versions of Shine and Unicorn boosted motorcycle sales. HMSI is targeting sales volumes of 8.8 lakh units. Of this, motorcycles will account for about 2.7 lakh units while the scooter segment will contribute the rest. The company sold 7.15 lakh units in 2006-07. Rattan said access to credit was not difficult for HMSI customers. ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Centurion Bank, Cholamandalam and SBI were willing to provide credit for purchasing HMSI vehicles, he added. He said 2008-09 would be a significant year for HMSI as the company would target to sell 10 lakh units during the year. With the launch of Aviator, the company hopes to strengthen its leadership position in the automatic scooter segment. The model, expected to sell 1 lakh units during FY09, could take the total sales volumes of HMSI's scooter segment to 7 lakh units by the end of March 2009. He said the automatic scooter segment was the second largest after the motorcycle segment in the two-wheeler industry, which is expected to reach 82 lakh units by March-end. The automatic scooter segment has grown from 3 per cent in 1998 to 13 per cent in 2007. HMSI was the market leader in India with 54 per cent share in the automatic scooter segment, which was expected to reach 16 lakh units by 2010-11 from 10 lakh units on the back of changing customer preferences, Rattan said.