YORII, SAITAMA PREF. – Honda Motor Co.’s new car plant in Saitama Prefecture has begun full production as the automaker’s leading manufacturing base.
The plant in Yorii is the first new Honda factory in Japan in 23 years, and some people believe it will be the last car plant ever built here.
Production at the factory has gradually increased since it opened in July and it reached its full capacity of 250,000 units a year last month, producing mainly the Fit compact.
“The technologies and know-how we establish at the Yorii plant will be transferred to new plants in Mexico, China and other locations to be built in the future,” Honda President Takanobu Ito said in a speech Thursday.
The Yorii plant is highly automated, with robots doing much of the work, such as attaching windows, sheet metal and tires.
Construction of the plant began in autumn 2007. The launch of operations was delayed for three years due to the global financial crisis of 2008.
Honda initially planned to produce larger vehicles at the plant but later shifted focus amid growing demand for compacts.
The yen’s persistent strength accelerated Japanese automakers’ shift to overseas production.
Vehicle output in Japan tumbled to 9.94 million units in 2012 from the 1990 peak of 13.48 million, while overseas production rose to 15.82 million vehicles.
Honda has cut its production in Japan significantly from the 2002 peak of about 1.38 million units. Still, the firm plans to keep domestic output at no lower than 1 million units to maintain its development and manufacturing capabilities in the country.
Motorbike recall in China
A local unit of Honda Motor Co. in China will recall 22,898 Super Cub motorbikes due to possible flaws in the braking system.
The recall covers five models assembled between June 2012 and September this year. Braking cables could become detached and fail to control the front wheels, Sundiro Honda Motorcycle Co. said Thursday.