BANGKOK, NNA - Honda Motor Co. and Yamaha Motor Co., the world's two major motorcycle makers, are betting on hybrid scooters in Thailand amid growing attention to such vehicles globally.
Honda says it will launch the PCX Hybrid in August while Yamaha released the Yamaha Grand Filano Hybrid last week in the Southeast Asian country. Both models are their first hybrid motorbikes.
The 150 cc PCX Hybrid is equipped with a Japan-made 48-volt lithium-ion battery boasting fuel economy of 52.3 kilometers per liter, up 2 to 3 percent from its standard model, and will sell for less than 120,000 baht ($3,600).
A.P. Honda Co., the leading global motorcycle maker's Thai sales arm, aims to sell 2,000 units of the new model per year.
The price tag for the Grand Filano, Yamaha's first hybrid motorcycle, starts at 55,500 baht. Thai Yamaha Motor Co., the Japanese firm's local manufacturing and sales unit, plans to sell 7,000 units per month.
In the domestic motorcycle market of around 2 million units, A.P. Honda and Thai Yamaha accounted for about 80 percent and 15.2 percent, respectively, in the first half of this year, according to the two companies.
The Thai government intends to shift the tax base for motorcycles from cylinder capacity to carbon dioxide emissions following a similar change for automobiles implemented in 2016.
The duopoly's hybrid model launches could raise awareness of eco-friendly vehicles in the country.
Surapong Paisitpattanapong, a spokesman for an automotive group at the Federation of Thai Industries, told NNA that demand for hybrid motorbikes in Thailand is expected to gradually grow, like hybrid passenger cars, as manufacturers need some time to raise recognition about the new technology.
Honda released the PCX Hybrid in Indonesia early this month and will start selling it in Japan on Sept. 14, while Yamaha plans to launch the Grand Filano in Vietnam. (NNA/Kyodo)