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Honda will introduce flex gas two-wheelers in 2024, EVs nonetheless a while away | Autocar India

Written by Ravi Kapoor

The Japanese producer can also be contemplating exporting made-in-India merchandise to Europe, Japan and Korea.

Atsushi Ogata, the managing director, president and CEO of Honda Bike & Scooter India is bullish on the prospects of flex gas for Honda’s two-wheeler enterprise in India. “Honda has a whole lot of expertise in Brazil over the past decade the place we promote flex gas bikes and have the know-how,” says Ogata.

That is additionally in sync with the Centre’s “power technique course” to cut back oil imports and improve the agricultural sector with sugarcane that enables biofuel conversion. The Centre formally introduced its biofuel roadmap a few 12 months in the past, and “we’re in keeping with this imaginative and prescient”. 

Curiously, emission norms in Brazil are lower than Euro four ranges whereas India “is the hardest” at Euro 5/BS6. “BS6 with flex gas know-how is a primary for Honda, however we now have the arrogance to launch the primary flex gas mannequin earlier than end-2024,” provides Ogata.

It’s possible that Honda will work on extending the flex gas gasoline engine purposes past 2025 and “we’ll enhance our product portfolio with flex gas varieties progressively”.

Honda EVs nonetheless a while away

The Honda chief is, nevertheless, much more circumspect about electrical which is “a troublesome query as a result of we wouldn’t have the product proper now for India”. That is in sharp distinction to the prevailing panorama, which is seeing an enormous thrust on two-wheeler electrification and is essentially dominated by start-ups.

“We’re nonetheless method behind proper now, however frankly talking, we now have the know-how in different international locations and the expertise to develop EV merchandise,” says Ogata. Nevertheless, from a enterprise perspective, it’s “troublesome to say a lot” as a result of battery prices stay excessive along with points on security.

“We’ve got a whole lot of expertise in promoting EVs in Japan and China the place the circumstances are completely different,” he says. Nevertheless, India’s hotter circumstances and tougher highway circumstances could make it robust for the battery. “We have to do a feasibility research and, over the past 12 months, have had talks with senior engineers in Japan. The right way to make it a sustainable enterprise in India is the important thing after we launch it.”

The better possibility is to supply the identical product retailed in China, however Honda is categorical about the truth that it desires “100 p.c make in India”. This isn’t going to be a cakewalk by any means. 

“We’ve got by no means produced EVs for India and there’s no provide chain for the motor, battery and PCU (energy management unit). The right way to make-in-India from the start would be the problem and it will take time,” admits Ogata.

Honda’s joint ventures in Japan, Europe and India

Again in Japan, Honda is a part of a battery swapping consortium which incorporates Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. The consortium has been finalised in Japan as ‘Gachaco’ established on April 1, with an power entity, Eneos, because the fifth associate. 

The target is to “contribute to the realisation of a recycling-oriented society by constructing a BaaS (battery as a service) platform for electrical mobility” and different battery recycling techniques. The following stage is to turn into an actual enterprise the place the JV will use the Honda battery swapping system in Japan.

As for Europe, Honda and Yamaha are a part of a consortium which incorporates KTM and Piaggio, however talks are nonetheless on to “harmonise” {hardware} and software program in a gas tank. As Ogata says, the EU has “so many international locations with completely different laws” {that a} convergence in options will take time.

Whereas India has no such Japanese consortium in place but, Honda has created a battery swapping service firm in Bengaluru – Honda Energy Pack Vitality India – which might hopefully pave the way in which for partnerships with different OEMs. Hypothesis has been rife that Honda India and Yamaha are additionally in talks to group up on the backend for battery administration, however no official affirmation has been made to date.

Honda India’s export function might develop

Past electrical, Ogata plans to reboot Honda by way of launching a brand new 100cc bike for rural India and changing the Manesar plant in Haryana into an export hub. All that is in keeping with what he had informed us two years in the past quickly after he took cost as MD. He had stated then that the corporate had “sufficient product line-ups” with the close to future throwing up extra. 

Therefore, “such sort of new mannequin manufacturing or growth” might comfortably be thought-about inside India. In response to Ogata Honda headquarters in Japan was additionally increasing the worldwide function of India, which meant that exports would quickly transcend creating international locations in Africa and South America to Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and so forth. “Honda India has the largest export sources among the many Honda group,” he had stated.

Ogata admitted that previously Honda was eyeing extra market share and volumes, however there was actually no want for that going ahead. “From now, after we construct the corporate strongly, we’ll attempt to acquire market share with out (providing) large incentives. Generally, OEMs purchase market share this fashion, however I don’t wish to try this,” he had reiterated.

From Ogata’s perspective, it was extra necessary to “consider and belief” the Honda philosophy and its core DNA. Even whereas the corporate’s merchandise have been a “bit costlier”, clients throughout Europe and ASEAN had had no points as a result of they “discover it simple to know what Honda is all about”.

About the author

Ravi Kapoor