Honda launches Elevate a desperate gamble to make a comeback in India

SUV Elevate is expected to give a fresh fillip to Honda’s dream for India

Japanese auto biggie Honda announced the worldwide launch of its all-new sports utility vehicle (SUV) Elevate in India on Tuesday afternoon. The launch, besides that fact that the global announcement took place in India, is also crucial in that it is part of the desperate last-ditch gamble of the the company to stay relevant in the Indian car market — the world’s third largest, and one its fastest growing.

From the heady glory days when a Honda City was the coolest sedan to have for middle and upper middle-class India, to the ignominy of shutting down a manufacturing plant and withdrawing various popular car models, Honda has seen it all. But the new model, aptly titled ‘Elevate’, it is hoped, will metaphorically do exactly that to its fortunes in the South Asia.

In fact, it isn’t just India. The company just shut down its manufacturing plant in Pakistan, too, just two months ago. Honda blamed the economic flux in the country for the drastic move.

It’s not just a revival of fortunes that Honda is hoping for with the new launch. As Toshio Kuwahara, President and CEO said, ““India is extremely important for Honda. As the first country to launch a global model, today’s World Premiere of the all-new Elevate is a stamp of commitment of Honda’s plans and aspirations for the country.”

Though developed at Honda’s R&D centre in Thailand, the company apparently plans to use its manufacturing plants in India to make the new car for exporting to global markets. 

Elevate is the first launch from the company in India in many years, and will take on the dominance of Hyundai’s Creta in the roaringly popular mid-level SUV segment. 

The Elevate is expected to give a fresh fillip to Honda’s dream for India, considering how the last few years were one of churn — from its heady initial years when models like City became one of the most sought-after, the company seemed out of step over the past decade. It withdrew models like Brio and CR-V from the market, culminating in shutting down its Noida manufacturing plant (Honda has another one in Rajasthan) in 2020. 

Presently, Honda has just two models retailing in the Indian market — the City as well as Amaze. Elevate is set for a festive season launch, and is part of the company’s new push in India, which will see a total of 30 new SUVs before this decade closes.