Designers Talk#5
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Beyond national borders—creating a scooter of appeal to the whole world

Different countries have different cultures and lifestyles, so naturally the popularity of motorcycle models varies by country too. For example, automatic transmission scooters, ideal for quick city trips and commuting, have long been popular in Europe.

Developed, designed and manufactured in Thailand, the PCX belongs to a category of scooter that is entirely new to its country of origin. While there is now rising demand among youths and urbanites for attractive new scooters, motorcycles have long been popular in Thailand, used for everything from commuting work and school, to deliveries to leisure, and practical, easy-handling underbone manual transmission motorcycles with their roots in the Super Cub are local favorites.

Why a Honda scooter was born in Thailand

There are two main reasons why the PCX was created in Thailand, introducing an entirely new category of scooter. First, thanks to continued economic expansion in Thailand, people want a commuter bike that goes beyond practical considerations to offer a more premium feel and greater pride of ownership. Sitting on a larger, plusher seat with a more relaxed leg position isn’t just more comfortable for the rider—it is also a sign of a more relaxed and affluent lifestyle.

The second factor was the associates of the Honda Motorcycle R&D Center in Thailand and their spirit of challenge. They wanted to create a scooter that would be popular not only in Thailand but also in Europe, where scooters are appreciated for their ease of use. The associates aimed to create a truly global Honda bike that would be popular throughout the world.

The associates understood that, based on local lifestyles, different types of motorcycles appealed to people as commuting bikes, like manual transmission underbone models in Thailand and automatic transmission scooters in Europe. However, they reasoned that if they could fulfill the emerging needs of people in Thailand for more premium features while creating features of appeal to people around the world, then the bike they developed would be ready to cross national borders and provide satisfaction to people around the world.

A new breed of motorcycle design

So the goal was to create new features that would appeal not just to people in Thailand but also to people around the world. This goal was broad in scope but essential to the creation of a truly global Honda model. Taking on this challenge, designers from Thailand and Japan joined forces.

The first task for the Thai designers was to study more relaxed scooter riding stances, still new to most Thai riders. At first, the Thai designers suggested sharp, slender and sporty designs reminiscent of currently available Thai-made bikes. Such bikes are compact, easy-handling and well-suited to the Thai culture and lifestyle, but the designs did not seem appropriate for a new global model. Moreover, they did not provide the premium feel that is an emerging need in the Thai motorcycle market.

In support of this project, designers from Japan carefully observed target customers at high-end restaurants and department stores in Bangkok. Based on this research, the designers sketched designs and built clay models and mockups of the potential new bike. In this way, the Japanese designers helped the Motorcycle R&D Center in Thailand envision a new breed of motorcycle design emphasizing relaxed, comfortable riding and a premium feel.

A design matching the needs around the world

The exterior styling of the new bike shows fine attention to detail and is much more premium in feel than other bikes made in Thailand. At the same time, the design accommodates all of the functionality that Thai customers require in a motorcycle: the size is ideal for negotiating a Bangkok traffic jam, and the bike’s power and durable components make it ready to conquer rough roads and deep puddles.
Developing a scooter in Thailand that satisfies the needs of Thai customers while appealing to the whole world offers many benefits.

For example, the slim, sporty styling and compact, easy-handling design that Thai customers appreciate is perfect for handling not only heavy Bangkok traffic but also rush hour in Tokyo. The larger steering angle, like that of an off-road bike and ideal for Thai traffic, also allows for smooth parking in Rome, where limited space demands precision steering. The 14-inch wheels provide the stable and solid dynamics required for the rougher roads around Bangkok as well as a comfortable ride on the cobblestone pavements of Europe and a premium look. The 125cc displacement, 14-inch wheel configuration is another feature that sets It apart from many smaller-wheeled bikes in Japan.

The essence of a Honda global model

In developing the PCX, the designers made the rider the focus, carefully considering the scooter as a means of transportation while also creating features that appeal to customers around the world. The result is a highly attractive design that means different things to different people in different riding environments.

For Honda, the positioning of a global model depends on more than just the markets in which a vehicle is to be sold and the potential sales volumes. To be launched as a global model, a vehicle must transcend national borders with a design of universal value and appeal, matching a wide variety of people’s needs. Combining relaxed, premium riding enjoyment with flexible functionality appropriate for a broad range of lifestyles, the PCX is a great choice for customers around the world.

All PCX photos show Thai models

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