Honda To Invest In Eco-Friendly Cars After Record Year

Global sales of these models up 5%.

Honda Motor Co. said earlier last week that it expected record sales of four-wheel vehicles this year and would invest in new plants for hot-selling fuel-efficient cars. Japan's third-largest automaker said it would invest a total of 70 billion yen (US$600 million) in new plants in its home country with a focus on strengthening research and development of environment-friendly cars.

Out of the 70 billion yen in new investment, 25 billion will be spent on an engine plant in the town of Ogawa in Saitama prefecture bordering Tokyo, Honda said. The new plant, to be in full operation in 2009, will have an annual production capacity of 200,000 engines for fuel-efficient cars.. Yorii, another factory in Saitama prefecture, will become "a green factory, which has 20% fewer emissions of Co2 greenhouse gas compared with the level of 2000," Honda president Takeo Fukuda said. The Yorii factory will be onstream in 2010 with an annual output capacity of 200,000 vehicles.

Honda said global sales reached a company record of 3.55 million four-wheel vehicles, up 5% from last year, while motorcycle sales will go up 3% to 12.7 million. About 40% of Honda's global sales have been in the U.S. this year. Honda says it expects sales to total 1.51 million in the U.S for this year and 1.51 million in 2007.

In Europe, Honda expects sales to rise 13% to 350,000 next year, up from 310,000 in 2006. However, sales in home market Japan are expected to slip 2% to 700,000 vehicles this year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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