Message from the Head of Motorcycle R&D
Yoshishige Nomura Director and Managing Officer, Motorcycle R&D Center, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Photo: Motorcycle R&D Center, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Looking back on fiscal 2014, it's best we start with emerging
markets, the main driver of Honda's thriving motorcycle business
in recent years.
In the ASEAN countries of Southeast Asia, changes in consumer preferences have emerged in tandem with economic growth. Utility is starting to lose its standing as the most desired attribute in a bike, with scooters accounting for a larger share of the market and demand for fun-to-ride models also growing.
I think Honda has made the right moves to capture this new demand.
We expanded our lineup of compact scooters powered by eSP, a next-generation global engine that delivers high environmental performance.
We also unveiled in Thailand the CBR300R motorcycle, which has a larger engine displacement than the model it replaces.
In India, a country with enormous potential for Honda, unit sales had declined due to our dissolving a joint venture with a local manufacturer in 2011. Nonetheless, we grew sales in fiscal 2014 by rolling out the Dream Neo, which boasts classleading fuel efficiency, and the Activa-i for the emerging female demographic. Going forward, we will aim to quickly take back our position as the best-selling brand in India.
In developed markets, meanwhile, some interesting changes have been taking place in North America. The market for fourwheel utility vehicles, also known as side-by-sides, is expanding rapidly; Honda responded by launching the Pioneer 700.
In mature markets, customer, preferences have diversified, requiring more recreational and distinctive products. Honda has successfully met these changes in developed markets by leading the industry in developing products tailored to diverse consumer segments.
While other motorcycles makers around the world have languished, Honda has greatly increased
its sales volume, reaching 1.7 million units in fiscal 2014.
For Honda to remain a market leader in major growth economies such as India, Indonesia, and Africa, achieving—and maintaining—the highest environmental performance is no longer an option. We're carrying out a number of R&D initiatives to realize further improvements in the environmental performance of our motorcycles—from the expansion of friction-reducing technologies, our Idle Stop System, and PGM-FI for engines, to the application of fuel-efficient technologies from Honda automobiles.
Most important, however, is our ability to deliver these cutting-edge technologies at affordable prices. There's no point in sharing environmental benefits with only a few.
I believe it's Honda's responsibility as a market leader to get advanced environmental technologies in the hands of more and more people. I'll see to it that we take bold steps to commercialize these technologies so we can achieve this.