Dongfeng Honda Automobile Co., Ltd. (Dongfeng Honda), a Honda joint venture in China operating in automobile production and sales, completed construction and commenced operations at a new second plant located four kilometers northeast of its existing plant in Wuhan, Hubei province.
The annual production capacity of the plant is 100,000 units. Combined with the existing plant's 240,000, this brings Dongfeng Honda's total production capacity to 340,000 units per year. The company plans eventually to expand capacity at the second plant to 240,000 units.
"Our goal was to build a plant that had advanced production and environmental technologies that were appropriate for Honda's newest global plant. We looked at our first plant and the newest facilities at Honda factories in Japan and decided to aim higher."
Such words suggest the confidence held by Makoto Shimoosawa, Vice President of Dongfeng Honda. In fact, the new plant features a number of world and Honda-first technologies and equipment.
Still, Shimoosawa prefers not to focus only on the physical aspects of the new plant.
The Chinese automobile market has grown at an astounding rate ever since the late 1990s. From just over 2 million units in 2000, by 2009 sales volume had grown to 13 million units—the highest in the world. By 2011, this figure reached 18 million, more than 20% of the global market.
Competing in this massive market today are as many as 100—possibly even 120—automakers. So many manufacturers from Japan, the U.S., and Europe have entered the market in addition to domestic companies that China is now said to be the most diverse car market in the world.
Honda officially entered the Chinese automobile market in 1998, when it launched the joint venture Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co., Ltd. (now Guangqi Honda) with Chinese company Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. It began production of the Accord in 1999, subsequently growing with the Chinese market by gradually expanding its product line to include such models as the Odyssey and Fit.
In 2003, Honda set up another joint venture with a local company, this time launching Dongfeng Honda with Dongfeng Motor Corporation. Unlike the coastal port city of Guangzhou, Honda chose to build the Dongfeng plant in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province located some 700 km inland up the Yangtze River, an hour and a half plane ride from Shanghai. In 2004, Dongfeng Honda began production of the CR-V, adding the Civic, Spirior, and other models in later years.
Having succeeded in expanding its annual production capacity from an initial 30,000 units to 240,000 units, Dongfeng Honda planned the construction of a second plant to realize further production capacity in coming years.
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