Honda Philippines to boost motorbike exports, starts New Zealand shipment

31, Mar. 2021

Honda Philippines, Inc. (HPI) president Susumu Mitsuishi (second from right), and HPI manufacturing division executive vice president Hiroyuki Yasunaga (far right) officiating at a ceremony to mark the shipment of XRM125 motorbikes to New Zealand on March 27, 2021 at HPI plant in Batangas province. Mitsuishi said exporting motorbikes could also help provide jobs in the Philippines which is now coping with its deepest recession. (Photo courtesy of HPI)
Honda Philippines, Inc. (HPI) president Susumu Mitsuishi (second from right), and HPI manufacturing division executive vice president Hiroyuki Yasunaga (far right) officiating at a ceremony to mark the shipment of XRM125 motorbikes to New Zealand on March 27, 2021 at HPI plant in Batangas province. Mitsuishi said exporting motorbikes could also help provide jobs in the Philippines which is now coping with its deepest recession. (Photo courtesy of HPI)

MANILA, NNA – After focusing on making motorcycles for the local market for many years, Honda Philippines, Inc. wants to export more bikes to support the global supply chain.

Taking advantage of lower tariffs, the company has started exporting motorcycles made in the country to New Zealand.

Due to arrive in April, the first shipment comprised 160 bikes of the latest model of XRM125 as it is suitable for "on and off-road usage to cater to the needs of the country’s dairy livestock industry workers," according to a press release by the local subsidiary of Japan’s Honda Motor Co.

The move is part of efforts to put Philippine-made motorcycles on the global map, said HPI, which is the market leader for motorbike production in the country.

Its plant in Batangas province, south of capital Metro Manila, has an annual production capacity of 500,000 units. In 2020, Honda Philippines sold about 600,000 units, including import models and accounting for about 48 percent the local market.

HPI has sold a total of 1.83 million units of the lightweight XRM since it was first released in the Philippines in December 2001. Eighty-five percent percent of the parts of the XRM125 come from local sources.

HPI president Susumu Mitsuishi said, "We see the exportation of these motorcycle units as the perfect opportunity to put Philippine-made motorcycles on the map since we can also consider ourselves as a motorcycle-riding country. It can also help the economy recover as we hope this opportunity can provide and sustain jobs in the manufacturing industry in the future."

HPI executives told NNA that their exports would benefit from a free-trade deal struck between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and New Zealand more than 10 years ago. The eligibility for tax perks would enable the company to gain competitive advantage and boost the Honda brand.

Exporting motorcycles produced in the Philippines and elsewhere will also help expand the company’s global supply chain, said HPI executives, adding they are considering to export more bike models to other countries in the future.

The Philippines is now the fifth country in Southeast Asia to export their Honda motorcycles overseas. China also produces Honda motorbikes which are sold in South America too.

Motorcycle sales in the Philippines were estimated to have plunged by about 30 percent in 2020 due to lockdown restrictions imposed across the country to contain the raging COVID-19 pandemic and the crippling recession.

According to the Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association (MDPPA), sales in the first 10 months of last year fell by 33 percent from the same period in 2019 to 941,260 units. Although it was sharp decline from 1,410,226 units, the high numbers of two-wheelers sold reflected their market resilience compared to cars. Sales figures also improved in the second half of the year.

Among the members of MDPPA are leading motorbike companies of Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.

In its media statement on 2020 performance, the association said, "While almost a million-unit sales is already a victory in itself, given the present state of the economy, it is by no means an indication of growth as some would speculate. It does, however, suggest that even as the motorcycle industry suffered under the current business climate, it is coping as well as can be expected."

The association noted that motorcycle riders were busier than ever as delivery services were in high demand under the “new normal”, which saw less human-to-human contact in sales transactions. Motorcycles were even considered as a safer mode of transport during the pandemic crisis, according to a study the University of the Philippines College of Public Health (UPCPH).

Late last year, the government subsequently allowed app-based motorcycle taxis to operate and support the inadequate public transport system.

On Monday, more than 24 million people in Metro Manila and four neighboring provinces entered another lockdown following a surge in coronavirus infections which have exerted more pressure on hospitals.

However, Honda is still continuing with its motorcycle production as Batangas province is not included in the areas with stricter mobility restrictions.