Honda Cars India has resumed operations at its Tapukara plant, located in Rajasthan, with a limited workforce, in accordance with local guidelines put forth by the Ministry of Home Affairs. While production is yet to begin, the Japanese carmaker has commenced basic activities at the plant and is prepping to begin production soon. However, operations at Honda's Greater Noida plant in Uttar Pradesh will remain suspended for now because the plant location is near a red zone which has a higher number or COVID-19 cases.
The information was shared with carandbike by Rajesh Goel, Sr, Vice President & Director, Sales & Marketing at Honda Cars India, in the latest episode of Freewheeling with SVP. Talking about commencing operations in India Goel said, "On the factory side we have two plants, on in Tapukara, in Rajasthan, and another in Greater Noida. The Tapukara plant started operating with limited numbers, and the Greater Noida plant was close to a red zone so we are still waiting for, basis this, as to exactly when we can start production. But we have started activity at the Tapukara plant and moving progressively to start production of cars as well"
Talking about the challenges in resuming production, Goel said, "We had made a sequence of planning that we'll start production with everybody only in the green zone, move to orange and then to red, and that also gives us a chance to kind of get accustomed to the norms which the government has given us, including distancing, aligning the process accordingly. But unfortunately, what has happened is, all the manpower, which was closer to the plant, have all come in, from the past one week or more than that, in Tapukara. But the manpower which had gone back home to closer neighbouring states will start coming in now. The second challenge is the supply chain, so as we speak, we still have some 20 odd suppliers who are waiting to get permission from their local authorities to start production, and once both of these are lined up, we'll start production."
Honda has also commenced retail activities in India, and according to Goel, the company has opened more than 200 workshops/service centres across India, and a slightly lesser number of sales outlets. Currently, the company is gearing up for the launch of the next-generation Honda City, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown. Talking about the new City, Goel added, "We do not intend to delay the launch, but as we start up the ramp-up is going to be slower and we can't start at peak level, so that is going to have some significant impact. But if I can use the word, it is almost around the corner and once we can freeze the date, we will announce it to everybody."