|Honda Begins Production of First Small Car "Fit Saloon" in China|
|Guangzhou, September 16, 2003 --- Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co., Ltd., Honda's automobile production and sales joint venture in China, today held a line-off ceremony to launch production of an all-new small car, the Fit Saloon, for the Chinese market. The Fit Saloon will go on sale nationwide beginning September 28, 2003, at a price of 99,800 yuan for the 5-speed manual transmission model -- with a sales target of 16,000 units for this calendar year.
The Fit Saloon is based on the City model that has been produced in Thailand and sold in various countries in Asia (in Japan, it is marketed as the Fit Aria). For China, modifications were made to match local road and usage conditions. In addition to high levels of quality, reliability and safety, the Fit Saloon offers excellent driving performance, outstanding comfort and functionality, and advanced styling. Regarding environmental performance, the Fit Saloon also offers exceptional fuel economy and meets the Euro 3 standard for tail pipe emissions.
The small car market in China is growing as rapidly - as is the Chinese economy as a whole. The year-to-date sales for the small car market (1.0-1.5 liter) in China at the end of August 2003 exceeded 170,000 units, more than twice the volume (219%) of to the same period in 2002. Guangzhou Honda has been expanding its sales based on upscale vehicles such as Accord and Odyssey. The company expects to further increase sales in China by entering the small car market with the introduction of the Fit Saloon.
For the first time, parts such as the SRS airbag system and brake system are also being procured locally, helping increase local content for the Fit Saloon to approximately 80%. Together, the scale of economy and high local content ratio contribute to the ability to achieve a lower price for the Fit Saloon.
Beginning operations in March 1999 with production of the Accord, Guangzhou Honda added Odyssey production in April 2002. To accommodate production of this third model, the annual production capacity of Guangzhou Honda will be doubled from the current 120,000 units to 240,000 units by spring 2004.
Guangzhou Honda produced approximately 59,000 units in 2002, and cumulative production and sales through August 2003 exceeded 220,000 units (since production began in March 1999). For 2003, production is expected to increase to 117,000 units.
Guangzhou Honda plans to expand the size of its dealer network from the current 160 dealers to 200 dealers by the end of 2003. It was the first sales and service dealer network to be established by an automaker in China -- and integrates sales, service, service parts supply and customer feedback.
Outline of the Fit Saloon
Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co., Ltd.