Honda eyes increased sales of big bikes in Thailand as duty slashed

BANGKOK, NNA - Honda Motor Co. is projecting a 20-percent increase in sales of its Japanese-made heavy motorcycles in Thailand next year following the elimination of tariffs under a bilateral trade deal, its Thai arm A.P. Honda Co. said.

A.P. Honda Vice President Suchart Arunsaengroj said import duty on Japanese-built big bikes, or motorcycles with engine displacement above 400 cc, is scheduled to be eliminated next year under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement, prompting Honda and other Japanese manufacturers to slash prices by 5 percent.

Since Honda began selling big bikes on the Thai market five years ago, the big bike market has grown from around 1,000 units in annual sales to over 20,000 units.

"Eighty to 90 percent of big bike users in Thailand are males aged over 30 years," Suchart said, adding they are divided into two groups -- high-end customers and step-up customers who previously rode small-engine bikes. Buyers in the latter group are likely to continuously upgrade their bikes as new models become available.

He made the remarks during the ongoing Thailand International Motor Expo in Bangkok.

The best-selling model in the big bike market is a 650 cc type, while the cheapest model is priced at 200,000 baht ($5,600).

According to local data, new big bike registration in the first 10 months of this year totaled 20,168 units, up 17 percent over the same period last year, and is expected to reach 25,000 units this year.

Honda is the market leader with a share of 38 percent, selling 7,639 big bikes in the first 10 months of this year, up 29 percent over the previous year, and aiming to achieve annual sales of 9,500 units. It is expanding its network of Honda Big Wing outlets, a big bike showroom and sales center, from 13 to 19 this year. (NNA/Kyodo)