Honda’s Brazilian unit, which assembled some models including the Fit [Jazz ] locally, will invest BRL100m (US$19.3m) in its automobile R&D division in the next two years to strengthen facilities and equipment. A new facility will be built before the end of 2013, and the number of R&D workers will be increased into the hundreds.
Strengthening of the local R&D capability in Brazil is a part of Honda’s initiative to reform its global operations which includes pursuit of “concurrent development by all six regions of the world,” where each region will participate in product development concurrently and at the same level.
“Through further localised R&D activities, to include design development that incorporates local needs and the expanded adoption of locally sourced parts, Honda will develop and introduce new models that fulfil the needs of customers in Brazil,” the automaker said.
Starting from 2014, Honda Brazil will renew its line of small cars including the Fit and the City which it also assembles locally. It will also introduce a new compact SUV model into one of the fastest growing segments in Brazil.
Honda Motor president and CEO Takanobu Ito said at a pre-show event: “To introduce more attractive automobiles more quickly to the Brazilian market, Honda will further strengthen its R&D capability in Brazil, including adopting locally optimised design to create products that directly respond to the voice of Brazilian customers.”
The first of these is a new ‘Fit twist’ derivative model developed exclusively for Brazil, and also the first model developed by the local automobile R&D unit.
Changes to give “a sportier vehicle image” include a new grille and roof rails plus an exclusive seat surface material.
Honda also unveiled new Flex fuel [ethanol[ vehicles, which are popular in Brazil, including a CR-V Flex and Civic 2.0, both scheduled to go on sale in 2013.