Honda Announces New Models and Increased Production
24 December 1997Honda Announces New Models, Increased Production as Sales Records Near in Japan and North America
TOKYO, Dec. 24 -- Concluding a record year in which Honda expects for the first time to sell more than 800,000 vehicles in Japan and 1 million in North America, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. . President Nobuhiko Kawamoto announced plans to develop and introduce a number of new vehicles, further increase motor vehicle production in North America and expand the company's focus on the environmental performance of its products and manufacturing facilities. "The diversification of customer needs in different regions around the world and the acceleration of this change in the face of environmental issues will continue to be the biggest challenges we face," said Kawamoto, in Honda's annual year-end announcement. On the eve of Honda's 50th anniversary in September 1998, Kawamoto announced formal plans to develop and introduce a series of new vehicles: -- The "J Mover" series of efficient, sporty and flexible vehicles Honda showcased at the recent 1997 Tokyo Motor Show. -- A new sports car code-named SSM, first introduced as a concept vehicle at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, which Honda plans to unveil as a prototype in the fall of 1998. -- A new full-size minivan for North America slated for production in Canada beginning in fall 1998. -- An all-new Acura sedan being developed and produced in the U.S. for a fall 1998 introduction -- a model that will be exported to Japan as well. Kawamoto also announced plans to increase auto production in North America to an annual capacity of 1 million cars and light trucks by the year 2001 -- without adding a new plant. "Honda has long maintained a philosophy to build products in the markets where they are sold and this commitment applies to how we meet increasing demand as well," said Kawamoto. "We will produce in the local market as efficiently as possible." Honda's three auto plants in the U.S. and Canada have a current capacity of 790,000 units. Honda will reach the 1 million mark through the addition of the previously announced second line (120,000 units) in the Canadian plant in fall 1998 and by obtaining another 40,000 units in the U.S. and 60,000 units in Canada through improved efficiencies. Production of engines and automatic transmissions in the U.S. will also be expanded. Kawamoto said Honda would continue its leading environmental commitment with the introduction of new automobile, motorcycle and power equipment products and technologies and the development of new production processes that will create "green factories." -- Sales of Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Accords will be expanded to Europe and ASEAN nations, beginning with Thailand, in 1998. -- Continued development of the Zero Level Emission Vehicle (ZLEV) and the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) engine (which achieves fuel efficiency of 70 miles per gallon) with plans to introduce both technologies in the future. -- Introduction next spring in the U.S. and Japan of the virtually zero emission natural gas Civic GX. -- A new large, sporty motorcycle -- VFR800FI -- will be introduced in Europe that reduces emissions to one-tenth the 1999 EURO1 standard. It is already on sale in Japan and America. -- A number of new motorcycles will be introduced in Japan in spring 1998 that meet new emission regulations set to take effect in October 1999. -- Cleaner 4-stroke power products -- like the new M-4 engine -- will be developed with the goal of meeting year 2001 U.S. standards by 1999. -- A new "life cycle" approach will commit Honda to take a role in the development, production, sales, utilization and recycling of its vehicles. -- A commitment to establish "green factories" by reducing waste and toxic chemicals by the year 2001 and committing to help reduce CO2 emissions. Following is a summary of other previously announced activities Kawamoto reviewed in his remarks: -- In spring 1998, Honda will open a new auto plant in India and a motorcycle plant in Vietnam. -- A new all-terrain vehicle (ATV) plant, announced in May 1997 will begin production in the U.S. (South Carolina) in the fall of 1998. -- The launch of the all-new Accord continues with the European version in fall '98 and sales of the Americas version in Asia in early 98. -- Honda factories in Japan will all achieve ISO 14001 certification by March 1998 with plans to achieve similar certification in North America, Europe and Asia by the end of the 1998 fiscal year (March 31, 1999). -- The new Honda Collection Hall -- a museum of Honda's history and products formerly housed at the Suzuka Circuit -- will open at the new Twin Ring Motegi race course. The "Fun Fun Laboratory" showcasing present and future efforts in mobility will also open in 1998. -- New concepts in mobility -- an ICVS-type (Intelligent Community Vehicle System) commuter transportation system and a power station for electric bicycles will begin at Twin Ring Motegi in 1998. SOURCE Honda Motor Co., Ltd.