Even as the automotive industry across the world was hit by the recession,
Honda India sailed through the turbulent times by maintaining lean operations
and carefully studying the operational footprint for creating greater
efficiencies, thanks to its president & CEO Masahiro Takedagawa. Takedagawa
started his professional career with Honda in 1979 as a trainee. He took over as
the president & CEO of Honda Siel Cars in 2005. Takedagawa will take over as the
head of Canadian operations. Takedagawa has been instrumental in bringing latest
global product technologies, like hybrid, to India. In an exclusive interaction
with Dataquest, Takedagawa talks about his belief in providing the best
technology to the Indian market. Excerpts
As one of the leading automotive manufacturers in India, how critical is
technology for Honda India?
We at Honda believe in constant enhancement in technology, constantly
providing the latest and best technology in the Indian marketright from the
iDSI engines to i-VTEC engines, hybrid technology in the form of Integrated
Motor Assist (IMA) and Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), etcto enable
vehicles to perform at their best. At Honda, we never stop looking for ways to
maximize power, sharpen handling, minimize weight and optimize fuel efficiency
while reducing emissions. Even our theme at the Auto Expo this year, Inspired
by Dynamism-Truly Honda by Nature, was the reaffirmation of our relentless
dynamism to create cutting-edge technologies and our commitment to protect the
environment for the future generation.
Can you elaborate more on how technology is being used at Honda India for
HSCI increased its production capacity from 50,000 to 1,00,000 units per annum
in 2008. Apart from doubling the capacity, several advanced manufacturing
techniques and robots have been used in the plant to enhance quality and
accuracy of operations. Our weld shop has twenty-seven robots and the paint shop
has twelve robots to apply the finishing top-coat to the vehicles. This
automation has increased the pace of the manufacturing process as well as the
efficiency on the line. To strengthen safety on the shop floor, HSCI has
installed sophisticated sensors for the safety of its associates.
Countermeasures automatically get activated if there is a safety breach anywhere
in the plant. All these steps have taken for new and enhanced facility has led
to high productivity. The plant can produce up to 380 cars per day with a
comprehensive tact time of 167 seconds for each car.
On the R&D front, how is the technology helping?
The Honda designers at various R&D centers across the world study human
perceptions and feelings from various perspectives and apply new ideas in the
evolution of car designs with that unique Honda quality. New car designs which
are developed then undergo comprehensive development process before they evolve
into finished Honda products. Every stage of car manufacturing from conception
to development involves various technologies. At our India facility too we have
started an R&D function in the Greater Noida plant, since June 2009. The focus
is to facilitate indigenization of our products and localize production of key
How do you look at technology outsourcing in India in particular?
As mentioned earlier, we have started an R&D function for automobiles in
India focussing on indigenization of our products and localize production of key
components. We can surely benefit from localization by minimizing our risks from
adverse currency fluctuation and keeping the cost of our products quite
Can you throw some light on some of the measures adopted by Honda India to
counter the recession?
During the recession at Honda we maintained lean operations, carefully
studied the operational footprint to determine how we can create greater
efficiencies. We also tied up with several public sector banks for enhancing the
finance options for customers to ease their purchase. We took full advantage of
stimulus packages provided by the government to boost sales in the auto
In addition we also refreshed our line up with the new Civic, a new variant
for Honda City, in the month of September last year and refreshed our CR-V in
Honda India has recently recalled around 8,500 Honda City 2007 editions.
How do you think technology could have helped in addressing this issue?
We are calling back these 8,532 units of second generation Honda City,
manufactured in 2007, for a preventive part replacement of Power Window Switch
at our dealerships. However, I would like to add here that these recalls are
proactive countermeasures taken by Honda to upgrade parts that have potential of
a malfunction based on product complaints and their analysis anywhere in the
If it found that there is a potential of similar malfunction in cars sold in
India, these product updates (PUD) are carried out in India. Such kind of
technical product upgradations helps in ensuring good quality and increases
customers faith in the brand.
Honda India has recently announced its plans to introduce premium small
cars in the Indian market. How will technology assist in this right from the
conception stage to rolling out the cars in the market?
Honda New Small Concept which was displayed at the Honda booth during Auto
Expo 2010, was the design direction of Hondas new small car and matches the
image of Hondas all-new small category car for the new era. India is a leading
country for R&D work on the New Small Concept. Extensive customer surveys have
been conducted to understand the needs of Indian customers in order to develop
this car. The new model based on this concept will be a global car with features
to suit the needs of Indian customers. With its commitment to provide
technologically advanced vehicles, the Honda New Small Concept is a true
Hondafuturistic design with maximum cabin space. The Efficient Energetic
Exterior based on front-forward design lends the Honda New Small Concept an
appealing dynamic presence. Hondas design principle Man Maximum, Machine
Minimum has defined the underlying approach in the design concept of the Honda
New Small Concept. A wide platform with a stable center of gravity was adopted
to create a highly efficient compact size car without compromising on the cabin
space, hence greater passenger comfort.