Honda betting on new sport bike to retain share of Thai market

BANGKOK, NNA - Japan's Honda Motor Co. launched a locally made sport motorcycle in Thailand to cash in on growing demand and retain its position as market leader in the Southeast Asian country.

A.P. Honda Co., a local sales arm of the world's largest motorcycle maker, unveiled the 150 cc Honda CB150R at a ceremony in Bangkok on Monday, setting a monthly sales target of 3,000 units. The new sport bike carries a price tag starting at 99,800 baht ($3,000).

Honda has seen increasing demand for sport motorcycles and larger and more powerful models in Thailand where it has maintained its dominant market position for 29 straight years, and 18 consecutive years in the sport bike segment.

"Automatic motorbikes, accounting for 35 percent of the whole market, are being replaced by sport bikes and more powerful bikes," A.P. Honda Vice President Suchart Arunsaengroj said.

He said sport motorcycles currently account for 17 percent of the overall motorcycle market and 150 cc bikes are rapidly overhauling the currently dominant 125 cc bikes in popularity.

Honda expects its motorcycle sales this year to grow 7 percent from a year earlier to reach 1.46 million units, up from a previous projection of 1.41 million.

Honda says its motorcycle sales in the first seven months of this year totaled 850,955 units in the Thai market, capturing a market share of 78 percent. (NNA/Kyodo)