Japanese carmaker Honda has said that it is planning to get the new version of its Accord premium luxury sedan to India in 2016. In addition, a hybrid version of the sedan might make its way here after the launch of the 2.4-litre petrol.
“Yes, we are getting the Accord to India. And we are thinking of getting the hybrid Accord as well”, said Katsushi Inoue, who took charge as the President and CEO of Honda Cars India recently.
Honda phased out its flagship Accord from India in December 2013 due to weak demand in the shrinking segment. Another reason for pulling the plug on the Accord was that the carmaker wanted to focus on small models such as the Brio hatchback, Amaze compact sedan, City midsize sedan and Mobilio MPV that would rake in higher volumes. As a result, India was never introduced to the ninth-generation Accord that was launched worldwide in 2013.
But with the Jazz arriving this July and completing Honda’s mass-volume portfolio, the Japanese carmaker can concentrate on bringing its big luxury offering - which is important from a brand and image perspective - back. It is likely that Honda will launch the facelifted version of the new Accord in India, since it is due for its global mid-life update next year.
The Honda Accord will come at a time when the all-new Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat are expected to be launched. How Honda prices the Accord is yet to be seen, but if it does so competitively, the car has enough brand value to be at the top of its segment. Traditionally, the Accord has remained cheaper than its direct rival, the Toyota Camry, that is currently on sale for Rs 28.80 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Meanwhile, the Toyota Camry Hybrid has been in India since 2013 and was relaunched this May in a refreshed avatar. It received a better response than the other hybrids in India and has so far accounted for more than 70 percent of the total Camry sales. Not surprisingly, Honda is also planning to roll out the hybrid version of the Accord a few months after the conventional Accord's launch, and this could be one way to compete with its diesel rivals, the Superb and Passat.
What is interesting is that Hyundai discontinued the first-generation Sonata after a decade-long run in February this year and exited the segment, making a wee bit more space for Honda. But now with traditional luxury carmakers like BMW, Audi and Mercedes pricing their models closer to the Accord, the segment is more crowded than ever.