November 9, 2012: Honda’s much-awaited new diesel car for India is to be called Amaze. Asian Honda Motor Co Ltd, the Asian arm of Honda, has disclosed the name for the all-new entry saloon to be based on the Brio platform for the Indian and Thailand markets.
While the model will be equipped with a petrol engine in Thailand, in India, the Amaze will be powered by both a petrol engine and a newly-developed diesel engine.
The diesel engine will be the new, all-aluminium 1.5-litre motor which the company claims will be the lightest and most fuel efficient diesel in its class. Honda will employ this diesel engine in the Brio hatchback as well. The Honda Amaze will be sub-four-metres in length and hence benefit on the excise duty front in the Indian market.
According to Honda, these models will be introduced at affordable prices and will be cost competitive by leveraging local sourcing and production.
Honda already produces body panels and engine parts including transmission cases, cylinder blocks, engine blocks and crankshafts at its Tapukara plant in Rajasthan. The facility will enable Honda to achieve further speedy localisation levels in the Amaze saloon as has been done with the Brio hatchback.
Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president of Honda Cars India, says the Brio achieved 90 percent localisation in October from the earlier 80 percent.
Further, the Honda Amaze will be the carmaker’s strategic model for Asia and will be launched first in Thailand and India. The company has said it will make known more details of the model later this month in Thailand, and in the next financial year (2013-14) in India.
Till now, Honda Cars India had been losing out on the sales front due to the absence of a diesel car in its portfolio, more so because of the massive consumer shift to diesel cars in the past two years. This had put pressure on Honda though it increased its overall market share to 3 percent from less than 2 percent in the April-August 2012 period compared to the same period last year.
The Amaze model will plug into the diversifying needs of customers in automobile markets in Asia where competition is intensifying. The name is linked to the product development concept of this new model after an extensive study of customers. “Every aspect of the new entry saloon seeks to amaze the customer by offering divergent and desirable values to expand customer delight beyond expectations,” says a company statement.
The carmaker is banking on the Amaze with its spacious interiors despite a compact exterior designed on Honda’s M/M (man maximum, machine minimum) concept to draw customers. The entry level saloon will target middle-class customers aspiring for an upgrade to a saloon.
Brio sales up
Meanwhile, the recently launched Brio automatic has notched sales of 360 units in October while the Brio hatchback touched total sales of 29,014 units till October-end, averaging 2,650 units per month.
Festive season sales were up in October by about 46 percent despite an increase in prices by the carmaker with the Brio hatchback posting sales of 3,700 units during the month.
Sen says that till Dhanteras in November, high sales will continue. Subsequently, volumes are expected to taper off with the full month of November recording average sales. “About a third of the Brio customers are first-time buyers while the remaining are upgraders and second-car buyers,” he elaborates.