Marks 60 years in Pakistan, signalling new era in country’s automotive industry
KARACHI: Chief Officer of Motorcycle and Power Products at Atlas Honda, Noriaki Abe, unveiled Honda’s inaugural electric vehicle (EV) motorcycle, the Honda BENLY-e, as part of the celebration of Atlas Honda’s 60th year of operations in Pakistan. The unveiling took place during a ceremony at Atlas Honda’s Sheikhupura factory and was attended by Shinji Aoyama, Executive Vice President and COO of Honda Motor Company, and Toshio Kuwahara, President and CEO of Asian Honda Motor Company, according to a press release on Tuesday.
Abe stated that the Honda BENLY-e would undergo test marketing, and future products would be developed based on market feedback to ensure that Honda delivers the best to society and customers. He noted that Honda products have become an integral part of daily life for many in Pakistan, and the joint venture between Atlas Group and Honda Motor Company has been a leader in motorcycle and auto parts manufacturing since 1963.
Aoyama mentioned that the mobility industry is experiencing a rapid transformation, and Honda Motor is well-positioned for the future. Kuwahara emphasised that Pakistan is a crucial market, and Honda is committed to introducing attractive products for Pakistani customers.
President and CEO of Atlas Honda, Saquib H Shirazi, highlighted the company’s achievements, including the expansion of its product line-up and the localisation of up to 95%. “The company has developed the largest network of local auto parts manufacturers and dealers. With more than 10,000 touchpoints, the company has created direct employment opportunities for more than 150,000 people,” he said.
Regarding the introduction of Atlas Honda’s EV bike, Electric Two Wheelers Manufacturing Group-Pakistan Chief Coordinator Muhammad Sabir Sheikh told the Express Tribune that it was a positive initiative to support the EV bike industry in Pakistan. He acknowledged the rapid growth of the China-based industry and anticipated a shift in the market in 2024. While noting the Honda EV bike’s expected costliness, he emphasised its potential to benefit the industry, given Atlas Honda’s leadership in the two-wheelers market.
Read: Honda Atlas sees potential surge in car sales
Sheikh emphasised the environmental benefits of EV bikes, providing a pollution-free environment and reducing the country’s fuel import cost. He urged the government to formulate a policy to limit the age of old petrol vehicles to control pollution, especially in Punjab, where smog has become a significant concern. The price of the Honda EV bike is yet to be announced, and Sheikh expects it to take a couple of months to enter the market.
Auto sector expert Mashood Khan views Atlas Honda’s entry into the EV bike industry positively, considering the company’s market leadership and extensive infrastructure. He suggested that the company should focus on offering competitive prices, given the usual higher costs associated with EV bikes compared to petrol bikes. Khan acknowledged that Honda is aware of customer preferences and financial constraints due to prolonged inflation.
He also commented on the delayed entry into the EV bike industry, emphasising the importance of setting new trends, introducing affordable EV bikes, and supporting the community of auto parts manufacturers facing challenges in the current economic climate.