Honda tries to ‘take root’ in Mexican car market

by Hiroko Nakata

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Honda Motor Co. said Thursday that its sales outlook for the Mexican market is positive.

President Takeo Fukui said the company expects its car sales in Mexico to grow by 12 percent from a year earlier to 55,000 units in 2007.

“We want to take root in the Mexican market, as well as take advantage of its location between two Americas and continue to supply to North America and countries centering in Mercosur,” Fukui told reporters after attending a ceremony to celebrate a total of 200,000 unit sales in Mexico.

Mercosur is a free-trade zone comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Isamu Yamaki, president of Honda de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., said the company has a goal of 10 percent growth in car sales in 2008.

Meanwhile, Honda will start assembling its two-seater multipurpose vehicle Big Red at its Mexican plant for sale in the United States next summer.

Honda’s investment in the plant will reach $140 million, or ¥15 billion, between 2006 and 2008. The second-largest car maker in Japan has already increased the number of employees at the plant by more than 600 this year and will add 130 more in the future to assemble the Big Red and to expand production of vehicles and components, Fukui said.

Currently, Honda’s share of overall Mexican car sales is 5 percent, the seventh-largest, after General Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG, Chrysler and Toyota.