Honda, the world's largest manufacturer of 2-wheelers, on Friday said it will exit the geared scooter market in India and phase out its 150 cc model Eterno as the company plans to focus on the gearless segment.
Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI), the wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese firm in India, also launched a new version of its gearless scooter Activa, priced at Rs39,800 (ex-showroom Delhi).
The new Activa will give 15 per cent increased mileage and is expected to drive up volume in the absence of the Eterno geared model. HMSI is looking at a total of 18 per cent growth in its two wheeler sales in the next fiscal, 2009-10, HMSI president and CEO Shinji Aoyama said.
''We will stop producing Eterno. We will not stay in this segment (geared scooter). Eterno will be phased out," Aoyama said, adding, the company would focus on gearless scooters in the future and with the launch of the new Activa.
HMSI, he said, was expecting to record 17 per cent growth in the current financial year with total sales of 10.6 lakh units.
Honda's motorcycle sales worldwide spiked to 15,126,000 units for the calendar year 2008, up 1.5 million from the year before, even as its auto sales dropped by 400,000 units to 3.5 million for the fiscal year that ends this month.
Honda's motorcycle sales in China were up 16 per cent, with South America trailing only marginally with a 12 per cent increase. In the Asian and Oceanic regions, Honda sold 11 million two-wheelers, up 15 per cent. All these have been driven by the skyrocketing demand for the company's small-displacement scooters, the company said.
HMSI last month unveiled its international `CBR1000RR Fireblade & CB1000R' in the fun bike segment in India. Both bikes, with their sharp looks, strong performance, quality and astoundingly responsive control, were targeted towards premium customers.
The CBR1000RR Fireblade with C-ABS will cost Rs12,50,000 and CB1000R for Rs9,50,000 - both the prices are ex-showroom Delhi.
HMSI's current portfolio includes four scooters - Activa, Dio, Eterno and recently launched Aviator, and three motorcycles – Unicorn, Shine and recently launched CBF Stunner, is all set to charm the Indian customers with its high performance, sporty, stylish international products.
The new bikes would be available in the Indian market in March '09.