The updated Honda CB350 H’ness and CB350Rs are launched in the country at a price tag of Rs 2.10 lakh and 2.15 lakh (ex-showroom), respectively. Both of these motorcycles are now OBD2 compliant, and they feature a slew of changes, like a new split seat, bar-end weights, key, front fender and more. Furthermore, the company has introduced six new custom packs for these motorcycles, four for CB350 H’ness and two for CB350RS. The H’ness gets Tourer Custom, Cafe Racer Custom, Single Carrier Custom, and Comfort Custom. The CB350RS, on the other hand, gets Cafe Racer Custom and SUV Custom. During their unveiling, we had a conversation with P. Rajagopi, Operating Officer, Premium Motorcycle Business, HMSIL. Well, here are some excerpts from the same.
What exactly is Honda planning with these customization packs? Can you brief us about it?
So in 2019, we launched the CB350 H’ness as well as CB350RS variants. They were bought by people who were looking for weekend rides and leisure rides. So these products are sold through our exclusive Big Wing dealerships, and over a period of time, we have interacted with the customers. And, the customers’ expectations are quite different in this segment. They want to customise and personalise their own vehicles. So, based on the feedback and records from the customers, we have designed these custom kits, to let consumers change their bikes into six avatars.
As you said there are a total of six customization packs available. Will the customer have to buy the whole pack or can a standalone accessory be bought as well?
If you look at the customers you know there are two sets. One who knows what accessory he or she exactly needs for the motorcycle. Therefore, the option of pick and choose remains present. Another one is relatively the newer one, who want peace of mind with a customisation pack that makes the motorcycle’s modification future-proof too.
I want to know that OBD2 is the new buzzword in the two-wheeler business. How is Honda planning to introduce OBD2 on its range of motorcycles?
So if you look at these bikes, we are ahead of time, these motorcycles are OBD2 compliant. We are introducing these bikes in a couple of weeks’ time in the market, and we are going to add some more colours and more attractive options to the customer. In that opportunity where you know we want to introduce these custom kits to the customers, our main endeavour is to see this market expand.
Other than customization what exactly are the changes that the 2023 or the updated CB350 range dons?
Because of the revolution, a couple of weeks down the line, we are going to supply these motorcycles as OBD2 compliant. Also, we are going to introduce more colour variants and then some kind of graphics, which we believe will be more appealing. Giving a lot of freshness to the product and the customization kit as a package.
I can see it’s a split seat over here. Will this remain standard across the range or it is also part of the customization pack?
So if you look at the product which is going to come in a couple of weeks’ time it will have a split seat, and it will be standard fitment. If you want a long seat that option is also there. If you want to buy it, you can put it in.
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Honda is inaugurating a slew of Big Wing showrooms across the country. What’s the exact count of premium dealerships as of now, and how many are planned in the near future?
We currently have 120 touchpoints. So it’s covering almost 60 per cent of the market, close to 120 towns. We want to reach 150 towns in the country which actually contribute 80 per cent of the market right so that’s our plan. We are in the process of expanding our network. Maybe a couple of years down the line we’ll have our presence in 150 towns in the country.
The CB350 range is the major seller for the Big Wing dealerships, but how about other premium motorcycles that Honda has in its portfolio? What is the response for them, and is Honda planning to bring in more premium motorcycles? To put the 120 premium motorcycle showrooms to use.
It’s like the portfolio is going to be a wider one in the coming days. Right now from 300 to 350cc, we have four products and two products you’ve already seen here and apart from that we have a 300cc motorcycle. This whole product portfolio put together, contributes to our 70-80 per cent of sales. But if you look at the market size out of 8 million, we call it a fun market. These 300 to 500cc products contribute a major chunk of the industry so our focus is currently here. We have now added a variation in the products for customization so we want to add more and more customers in the segment. Our endeavour is to further penetrate the market. However, we are continuing to study the potential and based on the customer response and feedback we are actively studying to understand what kind of product we need to build. So we are in the process of identifying the customer needs.
What kind of customization packs can be expected for the CB300F?
In the Big Wing, we don’t only sell the product we want to give an immersive experience to the customers. These kinds of customers are not only buying a product just for commuting but they want to use this bike for long touring. They want a lifestyle product. Then they have their own community to interact with about the product. So we give a holistic experience to the customer which is the objective of creating this Big Wing vertical separately.
How soon can we expect these customization packs?
We will start dispatching these kits to showrooms by the middle of the month. I think by the end of this month, the new OBD2-compliant products will be available in the market for customers.