Honda is considering importing more cars into South Korea from the US instead of neighbouring Japan, because it’s cheaper.
The strength of the yen is making exports from Japan expensive. Toyota last week said it would sell US-made Sienna minivans in South Korea.
Honda already ships its US-built Accord but sends the other models it sells there – the CR-V, CR-Z, Insight and Civic – from Japan.
CEO Takanobu Ito said the strong yen is making exports from Japan less cost-competitive and profitable, while a planned free trade agreement between South Korea and the US has given added incentive to reduce shipments from Japan.
Japanese car companies have complained that the government is not doing enough to stem the yen’s rise and sign free trade agreements, saying that was making it difficult to compete against South Korea’s carmakers.
The Japanese firms are also losing market share in Korea to European rivals such as BMW and Volkswagen. Sales of Japanese cars in Korea fell 21% in the January-October period, while sales of German vehicles jumped 34%.
During the 1990s, US-made Honda Accords – coupe and wagon versions – were shipped worldwide including Europe, Japan and Australia. The 1998 Accord ‘widebody’ sedan was initially built in the US for Asia-Pacific markets including Australia and New Zealand before sourcing switched to Honda’s Thai plant. Some later US Accord coupe models were also sold worldwide.