Japanese auto major Honda on Thursday said it has started exporting vehicles from India to left hand drive nations to strengthen its business here in the country.

The company has begun export of 5th generation Honda City sedan with the dispatch of initial batch to the Middle East countries from the Pipavav port in Gujarat and Ennore port in Chennai, Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) said in a statement.

HCIL has been exporting the right hand drive models of the City sedan to South Africa since August 2020 and to neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bhutan from October 2020, it added.

“Honda City has been the benchmark of sedans in India and addition of exports of its left hand drive model to completely new destinations is a great opportunity for us to strengthen our India business,” HCIL President and CEO Gaku Nakanishi said.

He further said,”We have invested in creating an expansive world-class manufacturing facility at Tapukara which can produce both right hand and left hand drive models that allows us to manage demand for domestic and international consumers.”

Last month, Honda had announced closure of manufacturing operations at its Greater Noida facility in Uttar Pradesh. The automaker had said the decision to cease production at the plant, which came up in 1997, was taken as part of realignment of manufacturing operations with the goal of improving business efficiency.

With the closure of Greater Noida facility, HCIL has also discontinued in India the CR-V and Civic models which are produced at the plant.

Nakanishi said the 5th generation City sedan has been very well appreciated in the Indian market and “we hope that we will be able to replicate this success and satisfy our global customers with its best quality and performance”.

He also said the move to export to left hand drive countries “is in line with our commitment towards ‘Make in India’ where HCIL has been manufacturing all its volume models with more than 90 per cent localisation and has been integral in developing a strong ecosystem in the country”.

HCIL said it has been exporting models including Amaze, WR-V and City to Nepal, Bhutan, South Africa and SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries. The export of 5th generation Honda City (both right hand and left hand drive) is the newest addition to the export business from India.