It might come as a surprise to many, but the Japanese carmaker is indeed looking at phasing out the big brother from the Brio platform- the Honda Mobilio. As surprising as it might sound, given the massive road presence of the car, a look at the sales chart from Honda makes it a no-brainer decision. We discuss the dimmed fate of Honda’s MPV and factors contributing to its discontinuation.
The Mobilio was launched in mid 2014 amidst a rising demand for budget friendly MPVs and the roaring success of the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. Needless to say, it became a runaway success for Honda. With figures close to 3500 units in the first month of its sale, the Ertiga was in for a serious competition in a segment it was battling almost solitarily and the Innova saw some further dents in its sales. The car was greeted with open arms and the soon to follow RS version of the car, further cemented its value proposition. The Mobilio has been in our market for sometime now and the journey has reached a point where chances of an updated variant seem bleak and discontinuation seems more plausible. Here’s why:
Prices play a make or break role in establishing a new product in our market. No wonders carmakers spend a whole lot of time finalizing on the prices of a new car, planning strategically on the level of localization for better results on the final pricelist. The Mobilio cost a premium over its direct competitor- the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and although that didn’t deter Honda’s market initially, now almost 2 years since, we know Mobilio’s pricing didn’t workout in its favor. Despite providing good amount of space inside and an amazing diesel engine, the Mobilio gained harsh criticism for being overpriced.
Mobilio was to compete head to head with the Ertiga in the MPV market segment it was targeting and it did that well. But things change, always. A new subcompact MPV was launched in the form of Datsun Go+. The Datsun offered 3 rows of seats at throwaway prices for some serious compromise on the actual amount of space enjoyed by the passengers. And then there came the new Ertiga, with an updated design and more passenger centric tech inside, again at a price competitively lower than the now aging Honda. The Mobilio is under-equipped compared to the competition and to make matters worse, a new iteration of the ever-so-popular Toyota Innova is just round the block.
The Mobilio lately is not bringing in numbers for Honda. The sales of the vehicle have been meager. Honda registered sales of around 441 units in January, followed by just 226 units in February. The vehicle might just be phased out completely by the end of this year, if the sales continue to deteriorate.
The Honda BR-V was unveiled amidst media galore at the recently concluded Delhi Auto Expo 2016. The BR-V is based on the Mobilio platform and when launched, it’ll compete with the likes of Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano and the Hyundai Creta. It is much better suited for today’s market needs and looks promising on charts. The USP of the car is its 3rd row of seats while maintain the rugged SUV like looks and an amazing ground clearance. Honda has placed huge bets on the success and it is bound to fetch results.
Now, all the above can be true but Honda wants you to believe it’s not. For now at least, Honda is strongly refuting any news regarding the discontinuation of the vehicle. But with the BR-V coming, it’s not a new thing for Honda after all. Back when the Mobilio was launched in August 2014, Honda was clever enough to suspend the production of its sedan, the City, to make way for the MPV. Honda has enough stock to keep the ball rolling for the next 3 months or so. It might just be a suspension of production this time around as well and while the company maintains that the vehicle is very much under production and that there are no plans for its discontinuation, we can only wait till the BR-V takes over the market.