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We never stop looking for ways to maximize power and optimize fuel efficiency

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DQI Bureau
New Update

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

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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

increasing productivity?




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.

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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

components.

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

competitive.

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

industry.

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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

November 2009.

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

world.

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.

Stuti Das



stutid@cybermedia.co.in

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