According to multiple outlets in India, Honda is getting ready to sell made-in-India motorcycles to the rest of the world.
Both moto-mags and standard news outlets alike are reporting on Honda’s plan to shift its significant Indian business into a higher gear (for instance, here’s a write-up in the Financial Express). After almost a decade of focusing on India’s domestic market, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Pvt Ltd is starting an export arm.
It’s a big move, because Honda’s already a big player in India. Like all the other companies in that market, their meat-and-potatoes products are sensible runabouts which aren’t terrible desirable in other markets. However, their recent CB350 series shows the Indian factory is capable of building motorcycles that appeal to customers not just in other Asian countries, but in markets like the UK, Europe, and North America.
After all, why not? Royal Enfield’s sold made-in-India retros for years, and it’s seen a massive resurgence in the past decade. Anything Royal Enfield can do, Honda can do.
And, it’s not like it’s breaking some unwritten rule to sell Honda-badged bikes that were built outside Japan. Honda’s been doing this for decades, with deals in countries like Taiwan, Brazil, or Thailand. Some of Honda’s most popular models were made in other countries, and the company has still retained its reputation for reliability.
Honda started its own Indian production about a decade ago; its long partnership with Hero started to wind down around 2010. Hero Honda was founded in 1984, and was the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer at its peak. Hero is still a major player in India of course, but Honda’s building its own business fast, and if it starts exporting motorcycles all over the rest of the world, it’s a massive growth opportunity for Big Red.
Having said that, don’t expect to see the H’Ness CB350 series in Canada just yet. Honda’s Canadian arm seems very reluctant to take much risk bringing new products in—we still don’t have confirmation the CT125 Trail is coming in, the XR650L is long-cancelled, and so on.