Japanese carmaker Honda plans to ease its hallmark safety norms to ensure its Brio small car has a competitive starting price point in the highly pricesensitive Indian market.
Honda Siel Cars India, Honda’s Indian subsidiary, may control the price of its first small car in the country by fielding its entry variant without a airbag, deviating from its global policy of ‘safety first’, industry officials said.
Airbags and other top-notch safety features such as antilock braking system and body cage are standard in all existing Honda cars, across models and variants. This may change with Brio. The airbag increases the cost of a car between Rs 45,000-60,000. That much difference in the starting variant may make it extremely tough for Brio to take on competition such as Toyota Liva, GM Beat, Skoda Fabia and Maruti Swift, say industry officials.
Without denying the possible loss of specifications, the Honda Siel spokesperson said that the price and variant strategy of Brio will be announced close to the car’s launch around the end of this month. The spokesperson said Honda plans to launch the Brio at less than Rs 5 lakh.
“Honda R&D is working closely with our purchase department to increase pure localisation of components for the Brio.” Sliding sales in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Volkswagen Vento and Hyundai Verna have already forced Honda to cut prices of its flagship City sedan by up to Rs 1.5 lakh. It also cut the price of Jazz by that much to make it more the struggling premium hatchback competitive.
“When it comes to safety of the passengers, we make no compromises. Truly speaking, at Honda, safety is not an option,” Honda Siel’s former CEO M Takedagawa had said. And so far the carmaker has stayed true to this.
It has been one of the most proactive carmakers in the country on safety issues and has voluntarily recalled Honda Accord, CRV and City on some technical and safety issues, putting its customers concern first.
Honda is known for top-notch safety and technology features in its vehicles. All its cars carry the G-Con body cage that provides more safety in case of a collision, along with standard anti-lock brake systems. Customers for decades have been paying higher prices for its products on the back of its engineering commitment to quality and safety. But cutthroat competition may force Honda to change its stance in the world's secondfastest growing car market.