Honda (1): mini vehicles and HV sales increase in Japan

New powertrains will permit Honda to lead in fuel economy within three years



 The following is an outline of Honda Motor Co.'s (1) plans to enhance its HV (Hybrid Vehicle) and mini vehicle families and increase their sales in the Japanese market and (2) product and powertrain development plans for the near future. (A separate report will cover Honda's activities outside Japan.)

 (Note) Vehicles with an overall length up to 3.4 meters, width up to 1.48 meters, and height up to 2 meters that are powered by engines with total displacement less than 660cc are classified as "mini vehicles" under the Japanese vehicle regulations, and are eligible for preferential taxation. Because of the affordable prices and maintenance costs, mini vehicles today account for nearly one third of all automobile sales in Japan. This report collectively refers to small, midsize and large-size vehicles other than the mini vehicles as non-mini vehicles.

 (1) Honda's plan to enhance its Japanese market includes increasing the number of HV models in Japan to six and the company predicts that HVs will account for 50% of all non-mini vehicles in March 2012 (monthly data) and more afterwards.

 In December 2011, Honda launched N BOX, a tall wagon type and the first model of the new mini vehicle N Series. In anticipation of steady growth of the mini vehicle market, Honda has moved the production site of mini vehicles from Yachiyo Industry, a consolidated subsidiary, to Honda's Suzuka Works and is taking steps to sell 280,000 units in FY2012, equal to 40% of 700,000 units, Honda's sales goal of all vehicles in Japan. The company further plans to set up structure for steady sales of 300,000 units.

 The N BOX, powered by a new-generation gasoline engine and CVT, is built by a whole-new manufacturing technology that has achieved a 10% reduction in the weight of the white body. Honda will roll out this method to other plants in Japan and other countries for all vehicles including non-mini vehicles.

 (2) In November 2011, Honda announced a revolutionary next-generation technology "Earth Dreams Technology" under its product and powertrain development plan. The company aims to introduce top-of-industry fuel efficiency in every vehicle class within three years by replacing its gasoline/diesel engines and CVT and introducing new electric vehicle systems.

 Honda's plan with new electric vehicles includes Fit EV launches in Japan and the U.S. in the summer of 2012, and models fitted with 2-motor HV/PHV systems in 2012 to 2013 in addition to those fitted with the existing 1-motor IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system. Honda exhibited the NSX Concept at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January 2012 (to be sold under the Acura brand and fitted with a newly-developed hybrid all-wheel-drive system). Honda has aspired to give a new try to building automobiles with personality and has decided to resume development of the successor model to NSX as the symbol of such aspiration.

 At the same time, Honda announced North America will be the development and production site of the Acura brand and the company will refresh all existing models within three years.

Related Reports:  Tokyo Motor Show 2011 (Japanese OEMs (1): December 2011)
Tokyo Motor Show 2011 (Japanese OEMs (2): December 2011)
Honda (Financial results for fiscal year 2010: May 2011)