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Honda Selling More Vehicles

Honda Motor Co, Japan's No 3 automaker, said yesterday that its unit sales jumped by 68.2 percent in the Chinese mainland last month, compared to a year earlier.



The company sold 13,953 vehicles in the mainland in January, up from 8,294 units in the same period of last year, Honda Motor (China) Investment Co Ltd said in a statement.


The sales included 11,884 units from Honda's joint venture in South China's Guangdong Province with Guangzhou Automobile Group, and 2,069 units from another venture in central Hubei Province with Dongfeng Motor Corp.


The growth of Honda's sales more than tripled that of total sales of vehicles produced in the mainland last month.


Sales of domestically-made vehicles stood at 243,100 units in January, up 20.68 percent from a year ago, according to industry statistics.


"We are very happy to have a good beginning in the slowing auto market in China. We have every confidence to achieve our sales target in China this year," an official from Honda Motor (China) Investment Co Ltd told China Daily.


Last month, Honda announced that it aims to sell 271,000 vehicles in the mainland this year, including 230,000 units from the venture with Guangzhou Automobile and 41,000 units from the venture with Dongfeng.


Honda's sales in the mainland surged by 74.8 percent year-on-year to 215,000 units in 2004, making it the third biggest foreign passenger vehicle manufacturer in China after Germany's Volkswagen and General Motors of the United States.


In January, the venture with Guangzhou Automobile sold 5,863 Accord mid-sized sedans, 6,009 Fit compact cars and 12 Odyssey multi-purpose vehicles.


Odyssey sales dived from 1,114 units from a year earlier "as the venture has halted production of the old-version Odyssey and will launch a new version soon this year," the official said.


Honda announced last November that it and Guangzhou Automobile will invest 2.2 billion yuan (US$265.7 million) to enhance the venture's annual production capacity to 360,000 units next year from 240,000 units at present.


The Japanese automaker and Dongfeng will also spend 2.8 billion yuan (US$338.2 million) to quadruple production capacity of their joint venture in Hubei to 120,000 units annually next year.


The Dongfeng-Honda venture, which started to produce CR-V sport utility vehicles last April, will launch a Civic sedan later this year.


Honda's total annual production capacity will almost double to 530,000 units next year, added to by that of its other export-oriented car joint venture in Guangdong with Guangzhou Automobile and Dongfeng.


The tripartite venture will start operation this year with a production capacity of 50,000 compact cars a year.


The venture will export all of its cars to Europe and Southeast Asia.


Growth of vehicles sales in China has slowed down sharply as a result of the government's macro economic controls, high oil prices and customers' delay in buying cars in anticipation of cheap deals inspired by producers' frequent price cuts.


Sales of domestically-made vehicles totaled 5.07 million units last year, rising 15.5 percent from 2003.


The growth rate was down from 34 percent in 2003, and that of car sales plunged to 15.2 percent last year from more than 70 percent in 2003.


(China Daily February 24, 2005)


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