ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Honda’s Asean dream
One of the world’s top-ten manufacturers of automobiles and the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world, Honda has more than 120 manufacturing facilities in 30 countries worldwide, producing a wide range of products - from motorcycles, ATVs, generators, marine engines, lawn and garden equipment and automobiles to fuel-efficient business jets.
In Asean, the Japanese carmaker has been in an overdrive as it ramps up production of automobiles, engines and components in Thailand, Honda’s manufacturing hub in the region. Honda invested 6.2 billion baht in the second assembly plant in Ayutthaya, in the central region in Thailand. The new plant, when it becomes operational in the latter half of 2008, will have an annual production capacity of 120,000 units. As a result, Honda’s annual automobile production capacity in Thailand will be doubled from the current 120,000 units to 240,000 units.
Kenji Otaka, who has just taken over as president, has vowed to make Honda an automobile brand that is best known and trusted by Thais in three years. Honda's spending and business plans were based on a long-term commitment to the local market and confidence in the country's continued economic growth and development.
“We may not sell more cars than the market leader but with higher customer satisfaction, sales will increase,” said Otaka.
Honda is better known as the top motorcycle brand among people on the road. It is and has always been the leading manufacturer of the legendary Dreams and Waves. But for those in the industry Honda is a pioneer and innovator in fourwheelers although it has been a perennial No. 2 in terms of cars sold in the region. Maybe Toyota has an edge due largely to the mass-selling one-ton pickup trucks, which Honda does not have on its portfolio.
Total sales may be misleading a bit. Take a closer look at the Asean sales figures for individual segments between January and June 2007, which reveal where Honda excels. Take for example the compact segment in Thailand. It was Honda’s Civic leading the competitors with more than 14,000 units sold, far ahead of the second-placed Corolla Altis from the powerhouse Toyota.
In Malaysia, the same compact car put Honda on top (about 5,000 units), compared with Toyota’s Corolla, 1,000 units. In the sport utility segment, Honda’s CR-V was the clear winner. The model also took the top model crown in Indonesia as well. The subcompact Jazz and compact model Civic were segment leaders in the Indonesian market. In the Philippines it was the Civic that led the compact segment.
The carmaker is expected to roll out four models, which will include an all new Accord midsize car and Jazz subcompact. Honda is in top gear on its (unstated) mission to be the top car brand in Asean, the dream Honda never divulges.