Friday, December 20, 2013
By Kamal Swami
Honda plans to bring globally successful MPV Freed to take on Toyota Innova in India
After challenging market leader Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire with Amaze in the compact sedan segment, Japanese carmaker Honda plans to take on the country's best-selling multi-purpose vehicle Toyota Innova by driving in a second utility vehicle in 2016.
Honda Car India plans to bring in the next generation of its globally successful MPV Freed, which is expected to be launched in ASEAN markets mid next year, to take on the Innova, two people familiar with the development said. It will follow Honda Mobilio, a 7-seater crossover utility vehicle being built on the Brio hatchback platform that would be unveiled at Delhi Auto Expo in February.
Honda and Toyota are working on the next-generation Freed and Innova, respectively, with both due for full model change. "Both cars are under design right now and it would interesting to see how Honda takes on an well established product which was ruling the market with no competition since its debut," said a person familiar with India strategy of both the carmakers.
A Honda Car India spokesperson, however, said the company currently does not have any plans to launch the Freed in India. "However, we are actively looking at the MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) segment and plan to launch the Honda Mobilio next year," the spokesperson said. The two industry insiders quoted earlier, however, said the Freed will hit the Indian market two years down the line.
Launched in 2005, Innova has been Toyota's most successful vehicle in India, having sold around 4.5 having sold around 4.5 lakh units till November. It's priced between Rs9.77 lakh to Rs15.06 lakh, ex-showroom in Delhi. Analysts tracking the automotive market say Freed would bring real competition to Innova if it gets its pricing right.
"This segment was untouched till date as Innova was perhaps the leader with almost no competition. Now it would be interesting to see how Honda takes this rivalry with an established product going forward, "Amit Kaushik, principal analyst-autos at global consultancy service IHS Automotive, said.