The continued growth of Honda’s 6-region global strategy has resulted in two separate and distinct roles for Honda’s Japan operations — meeting the needs of local customers and strengthening the growing autonomy of its regional operations.
Facing stiff competition and a difficult economy in Japan, Honda has focused considerable attention on developing unique products for its customers in Japan, while continuing to focus on the flexibility and efficiency of the production facilities that produce these products and the sales networks that market them.
Further, in line with the strategy of making the most efficient use of global r e s o u r c e s , H o n d a c o n t i n u e s t o p l a y a v i t a l r o l e a s a “ g l o b a l h e a d q u a r t e r s ” developing product and production technologies and coordinating their distribution and implementation to best serve each region’s needs. —
The all-new Insight hybrid was introduced in February 2009 and in May became Japan’s top-selling vehicle, marking the first appearance by a hybrid vehicle at the top of Japan’s automobile sales charts.
An all-new Fit small car, Honda’s best-selling model in Japan, was introduced in October 2007 and was named Japan Car of the Year for 2008. Cumulative sales of Fit worldwide surpassed 2 million units in 2007, with sales in Japan alone surpassing the 1 million unit mark in 2008.
To strengthen the foundation of its motorcycle business in Japan, Honda increased the number of “Honda Dream” dealerships from 81 to more than 109 by the end of 2009.
As part of its effort to develop energy technologies that reduce CO2 emissions, Honda Soltec Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned Honda subsidiary, in 2007 began marketing Honda-developed thin film solar sells throughout Japan for residential use. Mass production of Honda solar cells, which require substantially less energy to produce than conventional crystal-silicone cells, began at a new Honda plant in Kumamoto, Japan, in November 2007. In October 2008 Honda Soltec also began sales of its products for public sector and industrial applications.
To prepare for further increases in demand for hybrid vehicles, in November 2008, the Suzuka plant opened a second line for production of IMA hybrid motors, which increased the company’s motor-building capacity from 70,000 to 250,000 units annually.
In June 2009, the production of the Insight hybrid vehicle began on Suzuka’s No. 3 line in addition to the No. 1 line, leveraging Honda’s flexible production system and helping Honda meet global demand for the Insight.
Completion of a new state-of-the-art auto plant in the Yorii, Saitama prefecture, has been delayed for up to two years due to very challenging global economic conditions. When it comes on line, the new Yorii plant is expected to serve as the “leader plant” for the creation and dissemination of new production technologies aimed at improving Honda’s global manufacturing efficiency and flexibility.
A new engine plant in Ogawa, Saitama prefecture, began Phase 1 operations in 2009, involving casting and machining of engine components for plants in Japan and overseas. Production of complete engines at the new plant has been delayed for up to a year based on challenging global economic conditions.
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