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Japan-based automobile company Honda may soon re-enter SUV segment in India. According to a report by PTI, the auto maker expects to get back on growth path in India as it gears up to re-enter the high-selling sports utility vehicle segment next year. The agency quotes Honda Cars India President and CEO Takuya Tsumura in its report.

Currently, Honda does not have presence in the sports utility vehicle (SUV) space, which has now become the largest segment in the over 30 lakh per annum domestic passenger vehicle industry. In recent years, the company discontinued its car models like CR-V, BR-V and Mobilio in the market. It now relies on its sedan portfolio -- City, City eHEV (hybrid) and compact sedan Amaze to bring in the sale volumes.

In an interaction with PTI, Tsumura said the company has taken several steps in the last few years to make its business constitution "healthy" once again. Admitting that the company went through a tough time in the last three years, Honda decided to move towards electric mobility globally and the process led to restructuring of facilities and operations to conform to the new era.

Tsumura noted that the restructuring process has various implications including closure of few manufacturing sites across the globe, including one plant in India as well. He also acknowledged that lack of products in the high-selling SUV segment led to drop in volumes and market share.

"We did some restructuring in the last few years and it was a bit of a tough time, but I can now say it is done, the company now has a healthy constitution," he said.

Tsumura said that India is one of the most important markets. He added that the company has taken up several initiatives like product introduction in the high selling SUV segment to scale up its volumes in the country. "I can say that we have bottomed out this year and from now on we are only going to go up," he noted.

Honda's market share in the domestic passenger vehicle segment dropped from 5.44 per cent in FY19, to 2.79 per cent in FY 22.

"The SUV market has grown robustly and now accounts for around 50 per cent of the overall passenger vehicle segment. We are not participating in that segment. We are confident that with the launch of the SUV next year, we will enhance volumes," he said.

He, however, did not disclose details about the size and engine specifications of the upcoming SUV.

Answering questions about the company's sales aspirations from the new model, he said the first focus is to enhance production capacity utilisation at its Rajasthan-based plant which is currently hovering around 60 per cent.

"We are staying. Why do we leave a market which is now the fourth largest market globally? We have been here for more than 20 years, so there is no reason to leave," Tsumura said.

On new product launches, Tsumura said the company is looking at various segments with electrification strategy in mind. Honda globally plans to launch 30 EV models by 2030, with an annual production volume of more than 20 lakh units.

As part of its business restructuring, Honda has decided to discontinue its three models -- Jazz, WR-V and fourth generation City -- in India by the end of this financial year.

(With inputs from PTI)

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