Honda eyes new models, strong growth in China

Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:57am EDT
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By Fang Yan and Don Durfee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co Ltd will launch 10 more car models in China by 2015 and expects sales in the country to double over the same period, a senior executive said on Tuesday, as it moves to narrow the gap with foreign rivals in the world's largest auto market.

Honda (7267.T: Quote) is looking to China 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.

"We've been too cautious in China, this is undeniable," the head of Honda's China operations, Kuraishi Seiji, told reporters in Beijing.

"We will step up efforts to bring in new products developed for the Chinese market."

The new upgraded models it plans to bring in to the country include some China-focused small cars, he said.

Honda, which make cars in partnership with Dongfeng Motor Group Co (0489.HK: Quote) and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co (2238.HK: Quote), is a relative late-comer in China, where General Motors (GM.N: Quote) and Volkswagen AG (VOWG.DE: Quote) have built a sizeable lead.

Honda sold 617,764 cars in China last year, compared with Volkswagen's 2.26 million and GM's 2.55 million.

Peers Nissan Motor (7201.T: Quote) delivered twice as much in the country during the period, while Toyota Motor (7203.T: Quote) sold 43 percent more.   Continued...

A man is silhouetted against a logo of Honda Motor at the company showroom in Tokyo January 31, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai