Honda’s big bets at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo

Honda is on a big comeback in India, and they intent to keep the momentum going with new vehicles in 2014.

Japanese car maker Honda’s fortunes in the Indian car market have been on the upswing since the launch of the Brio hatchback, a product with which the car maker got the pricing strategy spot on. The success of the Brio was followed up by one of Honda’s best selling products in recent years, the Amaze compact sedan. The Amaze is the first diesel car that Honda has offered in India, and the car’s been lapped up by eager buyers. Honda’s ascent to the next orbit in terms of sales and marketshare in India, will be spearheaded by diesel power. The 2014 Indian Auto Expo will be place where a range of interesting and big volume Honda cars will be showcased. Here’s a wrap up.

2014 Honda City

The 6th generation Honda City is days away from being unveiled. While the first crop of 2014 Honda Citys would already have gone on sale in India before the AutoExpo, this car’s showcasing at the big ticket event is quite important. For the first time ever, the Honda City will jump onto diesel power. This step along is likely to give Honda a big boost in terms of sales. There’s some talk about Honda moving higher up the price chain to avoid cannibalizing the Amaze sales while also filling in the void created by the discontinuation of the Civic sedan. Whatever be the case, Honda will have to price the 2014 City competitively given the well entrenched competition in the C-segment sedan space.

2014 Honda Jazz

3 cars will revolve around the 2014 Jazz’s platform: 2014 City, Jazz and Urban SUV (CR-U?). The 2014 Auto Expo will see the next-gen Jazz making a comeback into the Indian market. While Honda will showcase the 2014 Jazz at the Expo, the actual launch is likely to happen a few months down the line. The 2014 Jazz will be offered with 1.2 liter i-VTEC petrol and 1.5 liter i-DTEC turbo diesel engines. While manual gearboxes will be standard, it’ll be interesting to see whether Honda chooses to deploy the 5 speed automatic/CVT gearbox, in keeping with the Jazz’s practicality quotient. The 2014 Jazz is likely to be heavily localized to keep costs in check. Also, reports emanating from the first media drives suggest that the 2014 Jazz is more evolution than revolution.

2014 Honda Mobilio MPV

The third product under the Brio platform after the Brio and the Amaze, the Mobilio MPV will gun for the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. A 7 seat MPV, the Mobilio will also be offered with 2 engine options: a 1.2 liter i-VTEC petrol and a 1.5 liter i-DTEC diesel.

The Mobilio is likely to be launched in the second half of 2014, with a price in the whereabouts of that of the Ertiga. The Mobilio, built on a low-cost car platform, will be the third big volume car that Honda will launch in 2014. The Mobilio has already been unveiled in Indonesia, a MPV friendly market. The MPV will be launched in Indonesia first, after which it will make its way into India.

Surprise Package: Production version of Honda Urban SUV, Honda Vezel

2014 will not see Honda launching the production version of the Honda Urban SUV, speculated to be named the Vezel. Constrained by production capacity (Greater Noida + Tapukara factory = 250,000 cars/year) and the launch of 3 big volume cars, 2014 will be a packed year for Honda Cars India.  Consequently, the launch of the Vezel crossover will be pushed to 2015. However, this shouldn’t stop Honda from showcasing the CR-U at the 2014 Auto Expo, as an appetite whetting move. This is one surprise we’re betting on as Honda’s already getting ready to unveil the production version of the Urban SUV concept at Tokyo. The SUV, which is likely to feature the first turbo petrol engine in production Hondas for India, and a 1.5 liter i-DTEC turbo diesel engine, will take on the likes of the Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano.

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