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BW Businessworld

Honda Mulling Acura Brand For India To Take On Lexus

However, the plans are still at a preliminary stage as the luxury vehicle marquee of Honda is yet to introduce Right-Hand Drive avatars of its existing line-up

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Taking a cue from its compatriot Toyota which has brought in ‘Lexus’ brand of premium cars in India, Japanese automaker Honda is believed to be considering the ‘Acura’ brand for the market by early next decade.

However, the plans are still at a preliminary stage as the luxury vehicle marquee of Honda is yet to introduce Right-Hand Drive (RHD) avatars of its existing line-up.

Currently available in the United States, Canada, China, Russia, and other prominent Left-Hand Drive (LHD) markets, Acura could now head towards RHD countries such as Australia, UK and India in the next decade.

Following a similar strategy implemented by Lexus, there is a huge possibility that the Acura-branded products will follow the completely built unit (CBU) route at least in the initial phase. Once launched, it will be taking on other established players like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volvo apart from Lexus.

When BW Businessworld, recently spoke to Yoichiro Ueno, President and CEO, Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL), to comment on the development, he maintained, “At the moment, the luxury car market is very small (at 35,000 per annum) which is barely 1 per cent of the Chinese luxury car market (at 3 million+ per annum). Moreover, Acura is currently available in only left-hand drive configurations in select markets. Once their RHD versions hit global production lines, we wouldn’t mind bringing it here. But we also need to see what the size of the market is at that point of time. If the market size (of luxury cars) reaches 100,000 units per annum, then it will be easier for us to take a call.”

It may be recalled that Acura brand was rolled out in the United States and Canada in March 1986, Hong Kong in 1991, Mexico in 2004, China in 2006, Russia in 2014 and Kuwait in 2015.

Auto enthusiasts predict that the Tokyo-based firm would like to have a wider product portfolio comprising models such as MDX (luxury SUV), RDX (crossover SUV), and ILX (compact sedan, RLX (full-size luxury sedan), TLX (mid-size sports sedan), NSX (sports car) and CDX (Luxury CUV) for the Indian market To be positioned above the Accord sedan, the Acura range of vehicles are estimated to be priced in the range of Rs 40-70 lakh.

“With Indian consumers becoming aspirational, I think it’s time for Japanese brands like Acura to enter a market like India. The consumers want to differentiate themselves from others by buying a unique product. Also the trust of Indian consumers in Japanese products will definitely give an edge to Honda’s luxury brand Acura. With the entry of Lexus, it’s become imperative for Acura to mark its presence in the country,” said Puneet Gupta, Associate Director at IHS Markit, a market research firm.

However, he added, “Though it’s not going be an easy journey as the current tax structure is quite heavy on this segment of cars. Moreover, competition is stiff and even German premium brands have not been able to establish themselves due to volatile policy in the country. Additional cess (of 10 per cent) may further spoil the party for premium OEMs in the country.”


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