Honda outshines Maruti with Amaze bookings

Less than three weeks into its launch, Honda Cars India Ltd has got a little more than 22,000 bookings for the Amaze sedan, outshining the response Maruti Suzuki India received for the Swift Dzire, launched a year ago.

The Amaze, Honda's first diesel car in India, has seen several buyers come for test drives and dealers struggling to meet increasing demand across the country. It has, thus, become the most successful model in Honda's 18-year history in India, surpassing even the Brio hatchback and City sedan.

Most Honda dealers are witnessing a large number of enquiries getting converted into confirmed bookings, with almost every dealer forced to keep the showroom open well past the usual business hours.

This comes at a time when the rest of the car industry, reeling under struggling demand, is offering discounts and other finance offers to clear stock. In March, the car segment saw a fall of 23 per cent at 180,675 units, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Honda, the eighth largest car maker in India, launched the Amaze at Rs 4.99 lakh for the petrol model and Rs 5.99 lakh for the diesel model (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi) on April 11.

India's largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki, which cut the original Dzire to size to gain the excise benefit and relaunched in February last year, had witnessed a booking of around 20,000 units in the first 18-20 days.

"We have witnessed a large number of walk-ins since the launch of the Amaze; several more wait to drive the car. On most days, the showrooms are open till 8 pm, but now, it's extended to 10-10.30 pm," said an executive from Honda Cars India.

The promising start for the Amaze across domestic markets has led to a sharp increase in waiting periods for the sedan with some stretching to over two months on select variant and colour combinations.

"The response has been overwhelming, but we are not sharing any booking figures yet," said a Honda Car India spokesperson.

The Noida-based company is aware of the production constraint it would face with the Amaze.

"Though it's difficult to satisfy every customer everyday, we are making sure every consumer gets to drive the Amaze. The idea is to not let any customer feel disappointed," said a company source.

Of the 10,000 units per month capacity Honda has at its manufacturing plant, it can only build 4,500-5,000 units of the Amaze, due to constraints. The company makes the Brio, Amaze, City, Civic, CR-V and Accord at the Greater Noida facility.

With the current mismatch in the rate of production and number of bookings, it's expected that the delivery period may get extended in the coming weeks.

Only about 3,000 units of the Amaze were produced by Honda before its launch to tackle the first wave of bookings.

Maruti Suzuki, which sells more than 13,000 units of the Swift Dzire every month, has also seen encouraging response for the limited edition variant Dzire Regal launched a week back. Priced at Rs 5.95 lakh, the Dzire Regal comes only with a 1.2 litre petrol engine with cosmetic changes to interior and exterior.