Honda Wants to Build More U.S. Vehicles

While nearly half the vehicles sold in the U.S. last year by rival Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. were imported, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. achieved a 77/23 North American-built/import ratio.

While nearly half the vehicles sold in the U.S. last year by rival Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. were imported, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. achieved a 77/23 North American-built/import ratio.

The 77/23 split came despite an increase in sales of imported cars and light trucks.

In 2006, Honda delivered 1.51 million vehicles in the U.S., a record 346,652, or 23.0% of which were shipped in from outside North America.

Toyota delivered 2.54 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, including a record 1.18 million imports, for a 53.6%/46.4% domestic/import mix, Ward's data shows.

Still, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. CEO Takeo Fukui is not satisfied. He wants at least 80% of the vehicles Honda sells in the U.S. to be built in North America, and maybe even more.

“Ideally, we'd like to achieve higher than 100% (North American-built units) and export the 20% excess,” Fukui, says via a translator in an interview with journalists.

Honda is unable to export as many vehicles from Japan to the U.S. as Toyota Motor Corp. because it doesn't have the available capacity, Fukui says.

However, he says even if Honda did have the ability to build more cars and trucks in Japan it likely wouldn't export more to the U.S. because of its longstanding desire to build where it sells.

“Do you know what percentage of the cars Toyota sells in the U.S. market are made here locally?” Fukui asks emphatically. “I don't want to have our company operate that way.”

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