'Honda Cars will not rush to launch EVs in India'
Excerpts: What made you re-launch 'Honda Civic' in India? We have Honda Amaze in the lower 'C' segment,...
What made you re-launch 'Honda Civic' in India?
We have Honda Amaze in the lower 'C' segment, 'Honda City' in the upper 'C' segment and then 'Honda Accord.' There is a huge gap between City and Accord. With the Civic launch, we are catering to the customers who want to upgrade from Civic and at the same time more or less done with our sedan line-up in India for the next three to four years.
Is Honda looking at introducing electric vehicle in India in near future?
We are not going for EVs in India at least for the next 3 years. There are three main hurdles that are to be crossed to make EVs profitable in India — infrastructure, affordability and range. When we talk about EVs, we need to ensure that they are suited for the infrastructure, are in the right price range, and also give mileage like that of petrol or diesel variants. Considering all these, I think hybrid is a practical thinking for the Indian market right now. Hence, we will raise our bet on hybrid technology and consider it the next step before electric mobility becomes mainstream in the country.
What is the difference between a hybrid and an electric vehicle?
The primary difference between a hybrid and electric is that the hybrid car derives some of its power from a conventional gasoline engine with an electric motor. A true EV gets all of its power from electrical sources and is a completely zero-emission vehicle.
There is a general perception that Honda along with Japanese carmakers like Suzuki and Toyota are lobbying with the Indian government to extend financial incentives offered for EVs to hybrid vehicles as well.
Honda agrees with the government's direction of promotion of electric vehicles. But our point is how soon can we reach a good level of business proposition. We are promoting hybrids because we believe it is the best arrangement for the time being.
The market is moving towards SUVs. Any plans for the Indian market?
Looking back at the history of Indian auto market, it started with hatchbacks. We led the sedan market creation back then. Our first priority was to complete the sedan line-up. Our next diversification has already started towards the SUV market. Two years ago, we launched the BR-V and last year we launched CR-V. We have to work harder and harder to crack the SUV segment.
When will the first Honda hybrid vehicle be launched in India?
The first hybrid vehicle will hit the roads by 2021. Technology is not an issue for us. We can get the technology tomorrow. We are running similar programmes for other countries. What is essential is that customer should be able to buy, own and drive freely. Until that happens, it's difficult to make a business case for it. We are still studying under which segment the first hybrid model should be introduced though the preference is to launch it in the mass -market segment.