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Honda to lift motorbike fuel economy in India

TOKYO -- Honda Motor will improve the fuel efficiency of certain motorcycles offered in India as part of a broader push to gain ground in the growing market.

     The company will focus on four models in the highly competitive 125-150cc class, including the Shine and the Trigger. It plans to raise fuel efficiency about 10% by the end of fiscal 2015 through improving engines and lightening chassis.

     The Japanese firm released its cheapest-ever Indian product last year with an eye toward market share: a 110cc motorcycle for rural communities, priced at 43,000 rupees ($689). In addition to lower prices, Honda hopes to improve its brand appeal through higher fuel economy.

     Honda is the world's top motorcycle manufacturer. But in India -- the largest market -- it plays second fiddle to local company and former partner Hero. Honda had a 20%-plus share of the Indian market in 2013, against Hero's 40%.

     At the Delhi Motor Show on Wednesday, Honda announced plans for a factory in the western state of Gujarat. The new facility, its fourth plant in India, is slated to go online in the second half of fiscal 2015 and will boost capacity in the country to 5.8 million motorcycles a year. Hero's capacity totals roughly 6 million units.

     On the sales side, initiatives include promotional campaigns and adding staff capable of training maintenance personnel.

     Honda sold 16.79 million motorcycles worldwide last year. With a target of 25 million for fiscal 2016, grabbing a larger share of the India market will be crucial.

(Nikkei)

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