Honda Introduces New Car In Japan; Beefs Up European Plant

TOKYO: Japan's Honda Motor Co. Ltd. said it will build up its European operations and predicted sales in Japan would rise slightly this year. Car sales at the world's second largest auto market slumped to a 12-year-low last year, as recession ate into consumer spending. "I estimate the sales will roughly total 6 million units," Honda president Hiroyuki Yoshino said, as he unveiled a new car for the Japanese market earlier this week. "Although it may be slightly better than the last year's 5,870,000 units, the increase will not be double-digit. "As we have a variety of new line-ups, all I can say is that we will strive to achieve our goals by using any means." Honda will begin selling a new mid-sized wagon, the Avancier, in Japan Sept. 15. It will be sold for ¥2.2 million (approximately US$20,000), with a monthly sales target of 3,000 vehicles. Honda also said it was building up its position in Europe. In July the firm began working on a second production line to its plant in Swindon, in the southern UK, hoping to raise annual production from the current 150,000 to 250,000 by 2002.

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