The Yorii Plant, which was designed to produce compact automobiles, began operations on July 9, 2013. By embracing the challenge of pursuing manufacturing in an environmentally friendly way, for example with high-efficiency production lines, the facility, which will serve as the “mother plant” for the new Fit series, which will be manufactured worldwide, will play the role of deploying those technologies at the other plants in Honda’s six world regions as the leader in advanced production technology. The start of operations at the Yorii Plant brings to three the number of facilities operating at the Saitama Factory, which is also home to the Ogawa Plant, which produces engines, and the Sayama Plant, which performs multi-model, mixed production. The Ogawa Plant has begun supplying engines to the Yorii Plant, which is a particularly important part of Honda’s drive to establish a high-efficiency production system.
At the Yorii Plant, we’re pursuing the kind of environmental initiatives that are only possible when starting up a new facility from scratch. As a result, we were able to achieve a life cycle recycling rate of greater than 98% for the building. We’ve also been able to lower CO2 emissions dramatically compared to previous facilities through careful management of solar power and air-conditioning systems, waste heat use, and other aspects of operations.
In addition to aggressively streamlining production and practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing at the plant, we plan to engage in a variety of community service activities in keeping with our local focus. We’ve installed biotopes of about total 16,000 square meters in forestland that stretches across some 280,000 square meters, or approximately 30% of the plant’s premises. The area is designed to help protect rare species such as the salamander Hynobius tokyoensis and the fish Lefua echigonia. The biotopes not only will be used for normal plant tours, but also will be open for use by the community as a place where local residents and children can learn about the environment and experience nature.
Planning the Yorii Plant was by no means a smooth process. Until the Lehman Shock of 2008, we planned to manufacture mid-size and larger automobiles with next-generation environmental technologies in a manner that would fulfill the expectations of Saitama Prefecture, the town of Yorii, and local residents. However, subsequent major changes in the business environment forced the plan to be delayed twice, once in December 2008 and then again in March 2009. Then the much-awaited restart of construction was announced in September 2010, but we changed directions based on social changes, specifically a downsizing trend accompanied by growth in demand for compact vehicles in emerging markets.
World affairs and the business environment will keep changing, but we look forward to continuing to advance a diverse range of technologies as we strive to inspire high expectations on the part of customers worldwide while aggressively managing manufacturing and upstream processes.