2017 Honda Rebel
2017 Honda Rebel (Representational image)Honda

Japanese automaker Honda is reportedly planning something big in the middleweight motorcycle segment. Honda Motor Co. has assembled a team of engineers from Japan and Thailand to develop a motorcycle to rival against the Royal Enfield.

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"We already allocated the people, some from Thailand and some from Japan to India to make a new concept mid-sized motorcycle in India," Noriaki Abe, president and chief executive officer (CEO) at Asian Honda Motor Co. Ltd, said in an interview, reports Livemint. Abe is set to become CEO of Honda's global motorcycle business from April 1. "If we can make that product (planned middleweight motorcycle), we can export that to even Japan," he added.

Royal Enfield commands nearly 95 percent of the 350cc motorcycle market share in India and is also fast expanding its global foot print. The Chennai-based motorcycle maker has been enjoying the pole position in the segment with no rivals. Bajaj Auto recently launched Dominar 400 and it found nearly 3,000 takers in January and February. The surging demand for the Dominar 400, saw Bajaj Auto overtaking Royal Enfield in 350cc to 500cc motorcycle segment sales in February. The dream start of Dominar 400 in Royal Enfield's turf seems to have prompted makers such as Honda to focus attention on the middleweight front.

Honda motorcycles are popular in India for its quality and refinement. On the other hand, Royal Enfield motorcycles enjoy an iconic status in India, thanks to its retro style. Honda stepping in to the middleweight motorcycle category is definitely not good news for Royal Enfield.