Honda adds hybrid cycle to Thai schedule
First electric models also in local pipeline
AP Honda, the local distributor of the Japanese motorcycle brand, plans to introduce a hybrid motorcycle next year in Thailand.
Vice-president Suchart Arunsaengroj said the hybrid motorcycle is part of AP Honda's three-year business plan for 2017-19, during which time the company aims to introduce 19 new motorcycles, including its first electric motorcycles in the Thai market.
In October, Tokyo-based parent Honda Motor Co showcased the Honda PCX Hybrid and PCX Electric at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show. The two models will hit the market from next year.
Mr Suchart said the company will launch the hybrid model in the Thai market some time in 2018, but he declined to disclose further details.
"We haven't decided whether we will produce the vehicles locally in Lat Krabang or import them from Japan, as the retail price is not set yet," he said. "There is no investment privilege for motorcycle producers, and subsidies for buyers are insufficient."
Even so, Honda motorcycles enjoy an import duty exemption under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement, which reduced the 30% import tariff to zero in April.
Mr Suchart said the Thai Motorcycle Enterprise Association and the Thai Automotive Industry Association have met with the Office of Industrial Economics to launch additional schemes on the consumer side to stimulate the local market.
"Most car and motorcycle distributors are concerned about the consumer response to electric vehicles because these models are costly," he said. "Batteries, their core component, cost 200,000-300,000 baht for both cars and motorcycles."
In related news, AP Honda yesterday introduced the all-new PCX150 with a retail price of 82,300 baht.
Mr Suchart said Honda's motorcycle plant in Lat Krabang is a major production hub for the PCX, serving many countries worldwide.
The PCX is part of the automatic segment, together with the Honda models Zoomer-X, Click125i, Scoopy-i and Moove.
In Thailand, automatic motorcycles account for 35% of the market, while the family segment (small motorcycles) represents 49%. The remaining 16% is sport motorcycles and big bikes.
The motorcycle market climbed by 4% to 1.684 million units from January to November of this year. Mr Suchart expects 1.82 million motorcycles to be sold in 2017, down 300,000 from his earlier projection.
The big-bike market (above 400cc) grew 20% this year to 28,000 units. The other segments have registered modest growth.
AP Honda sold 1.32 million motorcycles in the first 11 months of the year, up 4% year-on-year. Sales in 2017 will top 1.47 million units, up 6.9% year-on-year, according to Mr Suchart.
"The country's economy is projected to grow by about 3%, and with the agriculture sector now stable, the motorcycle market will expand in line with GDP," he said.
AP Honda forecasts the overall market in 2018 to grow by 3-4% to 1.88 million motorcycles.