A Honda Chinese joint venture, Dongfeng Honda Automobile, began exporting vehicles for the first time this month as the Japanese automaker steps up production in low cost countries.
Honda said it shipped “hundreds” of plug in hybrid CR-Vs and battery powered e:NS1s models last week from Shanghai with the ship scheduled to arrive in Zeebrugge, Belgium late in June. They will be sold across Europe including the UK, Portugal, Greece and Iceland.
This is not the first time Chinese made Hondas have been sold in Europe – some first generation Jazz (Fit) models were exported about 20 years ago, replacing Japanese built cars. Second generation models for Europe were built in England at Honda’s since-closed plant in Swindon.
The 50/50 JV with Dongfeng Motor Group produces the CR-V, Civic, Insight and, more recently, the e:NS1 electric vehicle (EV) at three plants in Wuhan which have a combined capacity for 720,000 vehicles per year.
The other main Chinese JV, GAC Honda Automobile, is part of the Guangzhou Automobile Group. It also has three main plants (four production lines) in Guangzhou province with combined capacity of 770,000 vehicles.
Honda is currently building two dedicated EV plants in China, one at each of these joint ventures and each with an initial annual capacity for 120,000 vehicles per year. Both are scheduled to be competed in 2024 with the company planning to increase its exposure to the fastest-growing EV market. Last year, Honda announced plans to launch 10 e:N series EV models in China by 2027.
Honda also plans to use its Chinese joint ventures to increase exports of EVs and hybrid models to the rest of the world, harnessing the country’s strong EV supply chain. Through its local joint ventures, Honda began expanding collaboration with battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to strengthen its EV supply chain.