Honda’s new fuel-stingy City debuts in Thailand

by Hiroko Nakata

BANGKOK — Honda Motor Co. debuted a new made-in-Thailand model of its City subcompact Wednesday to meet growing global demand for fuel-efficient cars.

The demand for compact sedans in the Thai market has increased in recent years amid surging gasoline prices, while the demand for pickup trucks has remained strong.

“Now, rising oil prices have increased demand around the world for small cars. And we developed this all-new City based on our commitment to provide our customers with fuel-efficient vehicles,” Fumihiko Ike, president and CEO of Asian Honda Motor Co., told reporters in Bangkok.

The new City, with an improved design and interior space, arrived at Thai dealerships Wednesday.

Honda plans to sell the model, also called the Fit and the Jazz, in more than 39 countries where the existing model is sold, including other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Turkey, India, Pakistan and some Middle East and African nations.

The retail price in Thailand is 524,000 baht to 694,000 baht (¥1.57 million to ¥2.08 million).

The City was first introduced in the region in 1996 to respond to demand in Asian markets, and is now produced in seven countries.

To meet the rising demand for Thailand’s exports, Honda will start up a second production plant in the country in late October. This will double the country’s total annual output capacity to 240,000 units.

Cumulative sales of the predecessor City were put at more than 1 million units at the end of May.