The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After City, Honda weighs Civic rollout

New Delhi, Oct 30: Honda plans to make the Civic—one of its most popular mid-size sedans—in India. It will manufacture a sporty version called the Civic GX.

Honda Siel, the Indian joint venture where Honda Motors of Japan holds a 99 per cent stake, is also considering the option of introducing another sports utility vehicle—the CR-V—as a completely built unit next February.

The company, which is reducing the number of variants of the City, is doing away with models fitted with 1.3 litre engines and trim levels of LXI and EXI. Instead, it will offer only the 1.3 DX, which has standard beige upholstery, is Rs 30,000 cheaper than the EXI (a previous high-end variant) and boasts of all the power features, but lacks a stereo.

Even the 1.5-litre City, fitted with the hyper 16-valve engine and the VTEC engine has seen its sporty LXI model being taken off the market. The VTEC-powered City is positioned in the slot that gives a higher horsepower of 106hp at 6,800 rpm, but only has manual transmission.

In the high end premium segment also, Honda currently offers only one variant, the VTi-L, at Rs 15.75 lakh. It has stopped producing the trim level of VTi.

Company sources said, “We have been successful in presenting an uncluttered range from the Honda stable to customers. Our research showed that in a matured car-market today, sedan buyers are looking for economy but also for some basic features, which previously would have made it an expensive trim level. That is why the initial rationalisation in 1.3L City was carried out.”

“But even as we worked on the City variants in order to offer customers a wider choice, we were working on a couple of other projects which have now matured. As a renowned name in the sedan class, we are focusing on a couple of cars in the same range—both for manufacturing and imports. The cars will not be anything below City or above Accord. So the product rationalisation will also help in future, when we want to slot in the new sedans,” he added.

At a time when Honda has been reducing the number of variants, other automakers like Hyundai and Maruti have been widening their range with the Accent Viva and the Esteem diesel.

Honda’s steps to rationalise its variants comes at a time when its cumulative sales have risen to 5,717 cars in April-September 2002, from 4,265 units sold a year ago.

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