The president & CEO of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India shares with Vikram Chaudhary the company’s performance in the recent festive season, why scooters never went out of style, and how Honda plans to make Auto Expo 2014 exciting
It has been a good year for Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI). The monsoon rains have been plentiful, rural markets are seeing increased spending power and this has translated into better two-wheeler sales—a lot of which have come from HMSI,” I prepare notes about the ‘only’ Honda in India as I wait for Keita Muramatsu, president & CEO, HMSI, at the Honda guesthouse in Gurgaon. Wearing a smile that can be attributed to that of a successful man, Muramatsu-san (san is a Japanese honorific) greets me. “Konnichiwa,” I reply.
As we take seats, I congratulate him on HMSI clocking record-breaking sales in the festive season. “We sold 4.56 lakh units in the festive season and 80,000 units on the day of Dhanteras alone. Starting from Dhanteras to Diwali, HMSI registered a growth of 70%, which is our all-time highest festive sales growth. Additionally, our total sales in October 2013 stood at 3,75,741 units,” Muramatsu shares the numbers with me.
“Have these record numbers come both from the scooter and motorcycle segments?” I ask.
“Certainly,” he says, adding, “While our Activa scooter saw sales of over 1.4 lakh units in September, even surpassing those of the country’s best-selling motorcycle, our Dream Neo (the 110cc motorcycle) achieved 1 lakh sales units within four months of its launch.”
“So, both the segments have been winners…” I chip in.
“I would say that Honda has been a winner and our performance shows the growing customer trust and preference for Honda products across the country,” Muramatsu replies, adding: “We also attribute this success to our strategy of network expansion in tier 2-4 towns together with capacity expansion.”
“So, Honda’s USPs today are brand value, product innovation and smart marketing?” I ask.
Muramatsu replies, “You have sort of defined HMSI’s success in India. To these USPs, I would add that we have always tried to keep up with customer demand by having enough and sustained production and, more importantly, we have been ensuring that parts for HMSI products are not only available everywhere but also remain affordable. And then the fact that we have been giving our customers the finest products that can be created in the two-wheeler space.”
“You opened a new technical centre