MUMBAI: Honda Motor combines the convenience of a scooter with the agility of a motorcycle to produce a crossover two-wheeler for the Indian market.

The idea came from the four-wheel market, where crossovers are very successful. Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India is developing the crossover locally and is expected to unveil it at Auto Expo next month and start offering it to buyers in April or May.

The project is internally called K74, people in the know. Honda did not reveal details of the project, but said in a press release that the vehicle would be aimed at “India’s young pioneer” and create a new segment in the Indian two-wheeler landscape. The product will be marked NAVI, he said.

K74 is the first project of the newly formed Indian R&D center, which manages its development from concept to production version, the sources said.

It will be powered by the 110cc engine which tows the Activa scooter and is likely to have a variomatic transmission.

The vehicle is not a moped or stepper vehicle as seen in Southeast Asia, so it will carve out a new segment for itself in the country, a source said. “This is version 2.0 of Bobby – an original two-wheeler, on which Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor was first shown in the 1970s. The NAVI is a more modern avatar.”

The NAVI will be manufactured at the company‘s existing plant in Manesar, Haryana.

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter did not respond to an email requesting details of the new vehicle.

A short-term challenge for the company will be the largely untested behavior of consumers towards two-wheeled crossovers in India, said VG Ramakrishnan, managing director of Aventeum Advisors. There have been a few unsuccessful experiments in the past with designing a scooter built into a motorcycle engine, like the Bajaj M80 and Hero Street, he said.

The design of the vehicle will be very critical to the success of the vehicle. “You have to see what design philosophy these products adopt and consumer reactions to those designs,” Ramakrishnan said.

Since Indian group Hero Group and Honda split in India, the Japanese company has been on a dream run, with its market share doubling to 26%. While the company has dominated the scooter market by capturing more than half of the market, its presence in the motorcycle space has remained fairly modest at 14%.

With the exception of the Honda Unicorn and Shine, other attempts by Honda have increased the volumes but not the motorcycle market share by much. The company has been successful in winning over family buyers with its scooters and more mature buyers with the Unicorn and Shine, but it hasn’t been able to appeal to young people as much despite interventions like the Stunner and Twister.

The attempt with this crossover is part of a major change in strategy to appeal to young people. In a big marketing stunt, the Honda Revfest, it unveiled or launched a range of bikes under the CBR family (150, 250, 650). He also launched a new 160cc motorcycle, the Hornet.

The crossover is one of 10 new models that will be presented at Auto Expo. The 10 include six Indian launches and four concepts.

While the company has been quiet about vehicle details, the marketing campaign for the NAVI began on January 1. In his press release, Honda said: “We are here to change the way India plays with two wheels … NAVI is about to excite the young pioneer from India and create a new segment. in the Indian two-wheeler landscape. “

The vehicle is designed in such a way that it opens up a significant opportunity to modify and accessorize it according to the tastes of the user, said a person familiar with the plan.

The company is talking about a limited volume of around 1 lakh per year to start. If the concept takes off, it is ready to ramp up production.

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