Before we get into understanding what will be competing with the Honda Activa – let us understand what the Activa has been all about – why do we love it? Honda had made the bravest decision to offer an all new style of scooter which was powerful, affordable in initial cost, maintenance and even cheap to run. It wasn’t just modern but had a lot more value points over the conventional geared scooters, which were dominating the Indian market for decades. Bajaj, LML and even the non-geared Kinetic had its own share. However, all the scooters were too old for their time, and did carry the shield of the license Raj era, which protected them from international competition.
When Indian economy got liberalized in 1991, most of the 2W manufacturers were caught napping, as they did not spend a lot on R&D for new technology. That is what had paved the way for the Honda Activa to dominate the competition. After the Activa, everyone did follow, however it was indeed too late. Honda got the brand name, reputation and trust which is difficult to shake even now. Honda has been playing it smartly with the Activa, which is now in its sixth generation. This scooter isn’t just feature-rich, it is also giving what the buyer is asking. Well, almost everything. However today, Honda is commanding a price over other competition, and the rising petrol prices will keep on hurting 2W buyers, especially scooters.
With the growing demand of electric scooters, there is a wait – a wait for an electric scooter or a brand that can be brave, confident and ready to take on the Activa. Brands like Ather, Hero Electric aren’t playing the game that can at the moment affect Honda, and the sales aren’t really chipping away much from the Honda Activa at the moment. The Bajaj and TVS electric scooters weren’t very big in their game either. So the statement from Honda to invest in an undisclosed electric two-wheeler and take on other brands before somebody disrupts the sales with an EV of their own is not a surprise.
And this is what Honda has planned now. Honda Two Wheelers India will be getting an electric two wheeler soon. The advantage of launching the scooter with the Active brand name and brand recall will be huge. Honda is India’s second largest two wheeler manufacturer with a wide network of dealerships, service centres and touchpoints. The infrastructure and what Honda put more into place for its electric two wheeler could be immense. Lastly, Honda did unveil the Benly e, a electric scooter developed by Honda Motor Japan, the parent company of HMSI. Could that or it’s technology be heading to India? We will have to wait and see.
Until then, will you be willing to put your money in the budding electric 2W space or will you prefer to wait until the infrastructure is further developed, even though major brands like Honda and Hero are set to enter this segment soon?
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