When Bajaj launched the Dominar in 2016, it was highly pitted against the mighty Royal Enfield Classic 350. It was supposed to gorge away from the sales of the RE and leave it hanging dry. Nonetheless, people did compare them, wrote and spoke sagas about it but it looks like the universe had different plans for them. The sales figures were the scary truth for Bajaj where they understood that they played the wrong card.
Now, the Japanese Red are planning to lock horns with RE to have their go at the middleweight segment and give a stiff fight to the Enfield’s 500-535cc motors.
According to a recent report by LiveMint, Noriaki Abe - Honda’s president-CEO at Asian Honda Motor Co. Ltd has reported saying that Honda has already formed a team of engineers from Japan and Thailand to come to India and study the market for manufacturing a middleweight motorcycle in a viable manner. They also plan to export these products to Japan if the situation permits.
This has been done after Honda has taken a good note at Royal Enfield’s lone success in this segment and looking at their sales figures, we can understand why. Moreover, RE is enjoying a good growth in having an overseas market this year where it saw its sales go up 71% compared to the previous year.
I believe that Honda is trying to capture the opportunity of having no other manufacturer in this segment in India, and because of Japan’s uncertain shrinking two-wheeler market, Honda is all in to manufacture a very competitive model in the middleweight category in India. At the same time, keeping the costs also aggressive has made this Japanese manufacturer consider this option strongly.
Abe in the report also mentions that “If we can make that product, we can export that to even Japan.” With Honda having all the expertise and the technology to take RE head on, it will be interesting to see if Honda can pull off something that Bajaj said they would.
|Royal Enfield’s proposed 650cc seen testing last year|
We also know that Royal Enfield is stepping into unknown territories. Both in some cylinders and capacity. With Harris Performance backing their engineering team and with the newly launched Royal Enfield Technology Center in the UK, RE has committed to foraying into higher capacity and better-engineered bikes. We saw Royal Enfield testing a 750cc parallel twin motor under the belly of its Café-Racer designed a motorcycle, the Continental GT. A modern retro rival for the Triumph Bonneville class.
Confirmed by a few sources (MCN and Economic Times), RE is going to invest a tune of 600 crores in their development for 2017 and will soon be launching a ‘significant’ bike accompanied by other variants. And we have enough proof to say that this ‘significant’ bike might be the 750cc spied last year.
Speaking to MCN, Siddhartha Lal, CEO Royal Enfield, stated, "Royal Enfield is the most profitable motorcycle company in the world regarding percentages, and we are thinking broader and thinking globally as we want to be the world leader in the middleweight sector."
|Honda CBR 650f - The only middleweight sold in India by Honda|
If both RE and Honda do come up with their new middleweights, it will be the battle of the century in the two-wheel industry considering the fact about RE’s fan following and Honda’s technological prowess.
Currently, Honda sells the CBR650F in India, a fully faired sports tourer. But because it is got into India by the CKD route, its unjustified high price tag of ₹ 668064 (that was close to Kawasaki’s Z800) kept most of the potential buyers away from the motorcycle. With this new development, we may get to see another middleweight from Honda but at a much aggressive price point. We will have to wait it out to see the development turning out in the market for Honda.
Source: Live Mint