Honda’s Urban SUV concept is production ready and now has a name, Vezel. The Vezel compact SUV was just unveiled at the ongoing Tokyo Motor Show, and the new Honda will be launched in Japan on the 20th of December, exactly a month from now.
The Vezel aims at being a lot of things to a lot of people, with Honda’s marketing material proclaiming that the compact SUV is a coupe, mini-van and SUV rolled into one vehicle. While we’ll explain more of that later, the focus now is on whether or not the Vezel compact SUV will be launched in Indian car market.
The answer to that, according to live tweets from the gathered Indian motor journo community at Tokyo, isn’t a positive one. “High costs” are said to a major dampener to Honda’s plans of launching the Vezel compact SUV in India. As things stand currently, the Vezel has been put on hold for the Indian car market. While Honda “putting the Vezel on hold” for India isn’t surprising, the reason ascribed to the Japanese car maker’s reluctance to bring the compact SUV to India might be different from what’s being bandied about in the twitterverse. Also see: Honda’s cars for 2014 Auto Expo
Here’s our take. Honda, even if it green lights the Vezel for India, will launch the compact SUV only in 2015. But, where’s the production capacity to accommodate yet another big volume product? Let’s crunch some numbers, shall we? Honda Cars India has an installed capacity of 120,000 cars/year from its Greater Noida factory. The 120,000 cars/year figure has been arrived after phased production increases at the 150 acre factory, which was initially tooled to output 30,000 cars/year, when it first went on stream in 1997. Also see: Hyundai revises the Verna to battle upcoming Honda City diesel
Currently, Honda has added a third shift at its Greater Noida factory for the Amaze compact sedan in order to keep waiting periods down. The stiff demand for the Amaze has meant that most of the production at Greater Noida has been aligned to the compact sedan, with the Brio getting the short end of the stick. For instance, Honda dispatched nearly 10,000 units of the Amaze to dealer yards in October 2013, no doubt aided by the discontinuation of the City sedan and the lower-than-usual volumes of the Brio hatchback.
In essence, the Greater Noida factory is operating at full clip and it’s likely that the Amaze alone will hog the full production of the factory if demand for the compact sedan persists at current levels. In the next one year, 3 new, big volume products will be launched by Honda Cars India: new City, Jazz and the Mobilio MPV. Additional production capacity will come in the form of the Tapukara factory, which will also be capable of outputting 120,000 cars/year. With the City, Jazz and Mobilio featuring turbo diesel engines, demand for each of the cars could easily hit 10,000 units/month if Honda manages to price them well. Also read: New details about Hyundai compact SUV
Honda Vezel photo gallery
So, with the production capacity of both the Greater Noida and Tapukara factories exhausted with the production of the Brio, Amaze, City, Jazz and Mobilio, how and where will Honda produce the Vezel compact SUV? That’s the moot question nobody seems to be considering. Therefore, the lack of production capacity is a major reason for the Vezel not making it to Indian shores in 2015, all talk of “costs” be damned. Meanwhile the 2015 Vezel, showcased in Japan, features styling that is a mix between a coupe and an SUV, perhaps a reason for Honda to call the SUV a blend of coupe, SUV and minivan (for its versatility of course).
Honda has announced 1.5 liter direct injection petrol engine and hybrid powertrain options for the Vezel. A dual clutch automatic gearbox will be offered as an option on the hybrid version. A diesel engine option too, is in the scheme of things. Magic seats and a centrally mounted fuel tank add versatility to the interiors. From the looks of it, the Vezel seems very promising, especially considering the equipment on offer. Therefore, it will be shame really, if Honda can’t accommodate the Vezel for the Indian car market.
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