We’re on the second generation now, built at Swindon here in England, but the first generation initially came from Japan, replacing the Logo, then it was switched to the new export-only joint venture plant in China. Honda UK did not exactly shout about it so few buyers knew where their ‘Japanese’ car was actually made. And we’ve heard no adverse reports of quality issues, either, from our spies in the consumer media.
Come generation two, and the UK/Europe Jazz again came from Japan until the recent mid-life update and launch of the Hybrid, when British assembly started for the first time at Swindon alongside the Civic hatchback (that’s made only in England) and Europe’s supply of CRV SUVs.
Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) doesn’t shout about it but a few of those Civics make it as far as the Antipodes with Honda Australia and New Zealand topping up their Thai-sourced sedan line with UK-made hatchbacks.
Next year, the UK-made CR-V version with the new 1.6-litre diesel engine will also get an Australian visa, to be sold alongside Thai-made petrol models. Meanwhile, Nissan’s UK plant in Sunderland has long schelpped various models Down Under – the first generation Micra in the 1990s and, more recently, the Qashqai (cash cow?) which wears the Asian nameplate Dualis.
Also this week, we learned that Kia Australia might import the Slovakian-made three-door pro_cee’d hatchback to compete with the newly-launched Opel brand’s Astra GTC three-door. That and the Sportwagon would supplement the Korean-built Cerato due to be launched there next year in five-door hatchback, sedan and Koup forms – the line is called K3 in Korea and Forte in North America and also built and sold in China.
All of this shows how global the industry has become and that the same quality can be achieved if plant equipment and production systems/supply chains are aligned.
It’s a long way from my early days covering the industry when ‘Japanese assembled’ quality was way better than the cars that came over in kits for assembly, with basic hand tools, jigs, paint shops and equipment achieving a much lower standard of finish.
So where will UK and European Jazzes and Fits come from when the line is redesigned for 2014?
With some Japanese automakers trying to shift all but domestic market production abroad to counter the strong yen, I guess Honda either returns to China, imports from Thailand or grabs supply from the planned new plant in Mexico which will build the LHD Fit for North America.
After all, if Mexico can supply VW Jettas and Beetles, why not small Hondas?
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com