just-auto.com

THAILAND: Honda unit pioneers 3G City

By just-auto.com editorial team | 11 September 2008

Honda's production and sales subsidiary in Thailand is the first to begin sales of the redesigned 'emerging markets' City sedan. The new model has a more powerful and fuel efficient 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine.

The City, which revived the name of a 1980s hatchback predecessor of the current Jazz/Fit, was relaunched as a first generation sedan model in 1996, targeted primarily at emerging markets in Asia. Today, it is produced in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, China and Turkey. Cumulative sales passed the 1m mark last May.

Thailand is the first market to get the third-generation car and its local plant will support the production start-up in the other markets.

Established there for 20 years, Honda has boosted local autonomy by transferring more production and procurement functions from Japan to Thailand with the goal of strengthening both the production strategy and increasing local parts sourcing. Thai-built Civic and Accord models go to Australia and New Zealand, for example, helped by a free trade deal between Thailand and Australia.

Increased coordination with local R&D and production engineering functions (production equipment and tooling) is supporting the advance of Honda production in Thailand as the 'leader plant'. Local content of the new City has risen to 93% from 83% in the outgoing model.

A second Thai  plant opens in late October, expanding the annual production capacity to 240,000 units.