Honda Siel Cars India recently crossed the 3-lakh sales milestone in India. The Japanese automaker launched a limited edition sport variant of its premium executive sedan - the Honda Civic, to mark its sales performance. By Tanmoy Mitra
Mumbai: With more than a decade of its presence in the country and a total investment of over Rs1,600 crore, Japanese carmaker Honda has proved its mettle in the premium car segment in India. The company is now investing an additional Rs1,000 crore for a new manufacturing plant in Rajasthan to roll out small cars in the domestic market.
Honda Siel Cars India Ltd, (HSCI) was incorporated in December 1995 as a joint venture between Japanese car maker Honda Motor Co Ltd, and Siel Limited, a Siddharth Shriram Group company. In 2008 Honda Siel Cars' mid-size, lower D and luxury products are owned by 3 lakh customers in the country.
The company is in no mood to relinquish its strong foothold in the expanding domestic market in India. As part of its expansion plan, Honda is introducing more products from its global line-up, including the newly launched Honda Civic Hybrid (See: Honda launches its first hybrid in India, Civic Hybrid), the first hybrid on Indian roads.
In 2008 Honda sold 36,849 cars in India, between January to July, up from 36,759 units in the corresponding period last year, an increase of 0.2 per cent.
With more dealerships in 2008 to cater to the new launches of Honda's latest passenger car models and technologies, the Indian customer won't be starved for choice.
A brief look at the new launches.
Honda Civic Sport
The Honda Civic sports variant was showcased at the 9th Auto Expo in January in New Delhi this year and had received an overwhelming response from visitors.
HSCI has decided to price the limited edition sports Civic for Rs12.36 lakh including the sports kit (ex-showroom, Delhi).
The Civic variant comes with sporty features including front under-spoiler, side under-spoiler, rear under-spoiler and a trunk-spoiler in addition to best-in-class luxury and driving pleasure that customers enjoy with the Honda Civic.
The car also features white aluminum alloy wheels, side sticker and a special car serial number on the gear shift column to certify its limited edition.
The car is powered by a1.8 L i-VTEC engine and is offered in manual transmission only.
Honda Civic Hybrid
Honda launched India's first hybrid car, Honda Civic Hybrid in June 2008, reflecting its efforts towards the protection of the environment and conservation of energy sources.
The Honda Civic Hybrid System features a 3-stage i-VTEC + IMA that uses Honda's 1.3L i-VTEC (variable valve timing and lift electronic control) engine to provide three stages of valve timing (low-speed, high-speed, and cylinder idle mode), combined with a compact and efficient electric motor, Honda's IMA (integrated motor assist) system.
Together with highly efficient CVT transmission, the system provides nearly 47 per cent enhanced fuel efficiency than a regular 1.8L Civic AT without compromising on driving performance.
Interestingly, the Civic Hybrid can deactivate all four of its cylinders and operate using only the electric motor in certain steady-state cruising situations.
In addition, the internal combustion engine is switched off when car comes to a stop while the brake pedal is pressed. These factors contribute greatly to the reduction of fuel consumption and emissions, particularly in city traffic.
Apart from sleek, aerodynamic exteriors and new-age luxurious interiors, Honda Civic Hybrid offers the best in safety technology, including active headrest and four SRS airbags (driver, assistant and side air bags), besides other safety features.
The Civic Hybrid is imported from Japan as a completely built unit and will be available in two colours - exclusive premium white pearl and alabaster silver.
The Civic Hybrid, has already sold 52 units in the first month of its launch.
The company recently announced the launch of the eighth generation Honda Accord in India, which will be available in three variants. The entry level premium car has been priced at Rs16.49 lakh
Launched in the US in 2007, the eighth generation Accord comes with a larger wheel base, an advanced and a more powerful engine while its length and width has been increased by 80 mm and 25 mm.
Powered by a 2.4litre-VTEC engine, the eighth generation Accord is E10 (10 per cent ethanol and 90 per cent unleaded petrol) compatible. It is also powered by an engine that gives power of 180 PS, which is higher than the phased out Accord.
The company has also upgraded the engine to meet Euro IV emission limits while the fuel efficiency of the car has been improved by 8 per cent.
(Also see: Honda Siel Cars launches eighth generation Accord in India)
Honda Siel Cars India, which manufactures premium segment vehicles in India, wants to cash-in on the growing demand for small cars in the country that account for almost 80 per cent of the total car sales. The company would be investing Rs1,000 crore for a new manufacturing plant in Rajasthan to roll out the small cars in the domestic market.
In the initial phase Honda will manufacture 60,000 units from the new plant, which is spread across 600-acres in Rajasthan. Production capacity of the plant will be increased to 2 lakh units in the next phase, the company stated.
The car maker has already expanded capacity of its Noida facility in Uttar Pradesh to one lakh units per annum in February 2008 from 60,000 units. The Noida plant will produce the premium segment cars.
The expansion plans have also led to an expansipon of the Honda dealership from 55 to 80 in 2007. The company says it will add another 20 dealers in the current fiscal across the country.
HSCI currently produces the Honda City ZX, Civic and Accord models in India and the premium SUV, CR-V is sold as a fully imported unit from Japan.
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