Honda eyes new models, strong growth in China

Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:47am EDT
 
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By Fang Yan and Don Durfee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T: Quote) will launch 10 additional car models in China by 2015 and expects sales in the country to double from last year's level over the same period, a senior executive said on Tuesday.

The launches would consist of new and upgraded models, including some China-focused small cars, Kuraishi Seiji, head of Honda's China operations, told reporters in Beijing.

Japan's No.3 car maker also plans to start selling two additional models of its high-end Acura line in China this year, and will begin producing electric vehicles by the end of the year at Guangqi Honda, its joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd (2238.HK: Quote), he added.

Honda also makes cars in China in partnership with Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd (0489.HK: Quote). The two joint ventures have a combined annual capacity of 720,000 vehicles.

Honda is looking to China's car market, the world's biggest, to help it recover after the car maker was buffeted by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand last year, which caused its global output to plummet by a fifth to 2.91 million cars.

The Chinese market has been growing more slowly after Beijing scrapped incentives for small cars last year. Overall sales climbed 5.2 percent last year, the slowest pace since China's car culture took off at the turn of this century.

In January, Guangqi Honda said it was targeting 10 percent growth in sales in 2012 after last year's figures were hit by the earthquake in Japan and floods in Thailand, according to local media.

Guangqi Honda is targeting sales of more than 400,000 vehicles this year, up from 362,000 in 2011.

(Reporting by Fang Yan and Don Durfee; Editing by Chris Lewis)