Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest carmaker, said sales growth in North America and emerging markets will help offset the impact of the strong yen.
Over the next few years, Honda will increase sales by at least 100,000 vehicles in the U.S. and a further 100,000 in emerging markets, including Thailand and India, annually, Chief Financial Officer Yoichi Hojo said in Tokyo on Thursday.
The automaker last week raised its full-year net income forecast 10 percent to ¥500 billion as surging car and motorcycle sales in Asia helped the company beat its first-half target. A Federal Reserve plan to buy an additional $600 billion in Treasuries through June will help prevent further economic decline in the world’s second-largest auto market, Hojo said.
Honda’s U.S. sales increased 16 percent to 98,811 in October from a year earlier, as light vehicle sales rose to an annual rate of 12.3 million, the highest since August 2009.
Honda expects to spend about $1,500 per vehicle on incentives in the U.S., $100 more than an earlier plan for this fiscal year, Hojo said. While spending is rising for small car models, it’s falling for light trucks, he said.
Sales of Honda’s larger models, the Pilot, Odyssey and CR-V, account for about 45 percent of its U.S. sales, near a high of 48 percent, he said. Light trucks, which tend to be more profitable than smaller vehicles, are selling better as gasoline prices have stabilized, Hojo said.
Even as Honda raised its full-year profit estimate last week, it lowered its outlook for the second half ending March 31 by 12 percent on the yen’s strength and weaker than expected demand in the U.S. and Europe.
The dollar traded at ¥80.22 on Nov. 1, the strongest level since April 1995. Every ¥1 gain against the dollar reduces Honda’s operating profit by ¥17 billion, the company said.
Separately, Hojo declined comment on a Nikkei English News report earlier Thursday that the company plans to make hybrid cars in China.
Honda, which sold 63 Civic hybrid sedans in the nation in the nine months through September, has said it will introduce its Insight and CR-Z hybrids there from 2012. That plan hasn’t changed and Honda hasn’t decided if and when it will start selling its new Fit hybrid hatchback in China, Hojo said.
Investment in Tesla
The Associated Press
Panasonic Corp. is investing $30 million (¥2.43 billion) in Tesla Motors Inc., the U.S. maker of electric sports cars, eyeing expansion in the global market for green vehicles, the companies said Thursday.
Panasonic will acquire about a 2 percent stake in Tesla, purchasing Tesla common stock at $21.15 per share.
Japan’s biggest electronics maker, which already makes batteries for Tesla vehicles, said the two firms will jointly market and sell battery packs for electric cars.
Apart from Panasonic, Toyota Motor Corp. has invested $50 million in the high-end electric car maker. Toyota has also signed a $60 million contract to have Tesla help develop an electric version of Toyota’s RAV4 crossover vehicle.
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