Honda Cars India Ltd. (HCIL) on Tuesday unveiled its mid-size SUV, Honda Elevate. The price of the car will be announced during the festive season this year and bookings will open in July.

India will be the first country to manufacture and sell Elevate globally. Developed on the concept of 'Urban Freestyler', the mid-size SUV comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine and offers a cargo space of 458 litres.

The company will launch its first battery electric vehicle (BEV) based on Elevate within the next three years in India.

Riding on the Elevate launch, Honda plans to recover its market share in the coming years. The Japanese carmaker witnessed a consistent drop in its market share over the past few years, partly due to the absence of any SUV. In 2020, the company discontinued its CR-V and Civic models. It later stopped production of WR-V and Jazz. The automaker's passenger vehicle (PV) market share dropped to 1.7% in May 2023 compared with 2.7% in the same month last year.

While the initial launch of Elevate is focused on the domestic market, India also aims to serve as an important export hub for the new model to other parts of the world, catering to the robust demand for SUVs globally. Honda Cars India exported around 23,000 cars in 2022-23, about 20% of its total production.

"The exports from India to several regions across the globe are growing continuously every year. With a high level of quality standards to deliver products that exceed expectations of both local and worldwide customers, India has become one of the most important export hubs for Honda," says Toshio Kuwahara, Head of Regional Unit (Asia & Oceania), Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and President and CEO, Asian Honda Motor Co.

The carmaker plans to become 100% electric by 2040. "Moving forward to 2050, Honda strives to realise carbon neutrality and zero traffic collision fatalities involving our motorcycles and automobiles. To achieve this target, Honda aims to increase the sales ratio of Battery Electric Vehicles and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles sales to 100% globally by 2040, including India. For safety, we continue enhancing advanced technologies including the expansion of Honda Sensing around the world and strengthening our safety education to reduce traffic accidents," says Kuwahara.

On the semiconductor crisis, Kuwahara says Honda is "still struggling" with the chip shortage. However, the situation is better than last year.

Honda, which has been in India for 25 years, is eyeing to launch 5 SUVs by 2030. The company's Tapukara plant has a production capacity of 1.8 lakh units annually. The company currently manufactures 1.2 lakh cars every year.

India, the world's third-largest automotive market, is significant for Honda. "We have a robust product strategy to strengthen our premium play in the market and Elevate is the first model among the 5 new SUVs that will be launched by Honda in India by 2030," says Takuya Tsumura, President & CEO, Honda Cars India. "Aligning with our global vision towards carbon neutrality by focusing on electrified powertrains, we will launch Honda's first Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) based on this SUV within the next 3 years in India," Tsumura adds.

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