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Interview: Honda reports rising demand for compact and small SUVs in the Middle East

AMEinfo had the chance to speak with Anup Ravindranath, General Manager - Sales and Marketing at Honda Motor Company - MEA, to learn more about the SUV market in the Middle East.

Honda launched a new compact SUV in the UAE, the Honda HR-V, earlier this year The move saw the Japanese automaker complete its trio of SUV offerings, serving all demographics in the country Honda is planning for two thirds of its company sales to be dreived from electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030

Honda Motor Co. Africa and Middle East Office announced the launch of its brand new crossover SUV, the HR-V, at an event in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The event, entitled the ‘Power of 3,’ also saw the unveiling of the updated popular CR-V and Pilot models, completing the manufacturer’s SUV line up.

The HR-V represents Honda’s foray into the compact SUV market, which the company has noted is seeeing increasing consumer preference. 

AMEinfo had the chance to speak with Anup Ravindranath, General Manager – Sales and Marketing at Honda Motor Company – MEA. He discussed some notable trends in the GCC SUV market, providing us some insight into the market. 

1. How does Honda’s business strategy differ in the GCC from other parts of the world? 

The GCC has a varied demographic mix where each individual has different needs for purchase of a vehicle. We at Honda Motor Co. have recognised this need over the years and have developed a product line up that caters to individuals who are new drivers to small families as well as large joint families. We also make sure we research about the market and the need gap before introducing any products keeping in mind our customers.

2. GCC countries are known for their preference for SUVs. How has Honda been able to cater to this rising demand? 

Honda has the CR-V and the Pilot already in their product line up which targets different lifestyle of customer. We did not have a compact SUV and this need gap has now been met with the HR-V. The HR-V is targeted towards the compact SUV segment, whereas the CR-V is midsize SUV segment and the Pilot is for the large SUV segment. With the HR-V we have now completed the entire SUV segment line up.

3. Do Honda SUVs sold in the GCC differ in features from those sold in other regions?

We believe it is utmost important to include local customer requirement thus Honda models sold in GCC takes into account customer preferences and local climatic conditions. This is apart from meeting local regulation set by authorities. 

4. How would you categorise the demographic of Honda SUVs? 

-HR-V: Millenials, Targeted at those who are looking to purchase first car/suv for a vibrant lifestyle, which Small families, women, first time drivers. 

-CR-V has been extremely popular for urban lifestyle. 

-Pilot is for customers looking for an adventure and may require large seating capacity. (8 seats)    

5. Can you share with us any recent performance figures?

There is a clear positive trend in terms of customer preference for compact and small SUV’s in the Middle East Region. This is one of the rationales for our latest launch of the New HR-V. 

6. Electric vehicles (EVs) are a hot talking point in the automotive industry right now, with the first Middle East e-Motor Show having taken place in Lebanon in April. Is Honda prepping their own EV line-up? A concept vehicle was revealed recently. 

Honda has planned for various forms of electric vehicles to account for two thirds of the company sales by 2030. Petrol models will continue in some form through hybrid models for the next few decades at least, but engine capacities will become smaller and we expect fuel efficiencies to improve considerably.