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Report: Honda resuming production of minicars

10 September 2011

The Nikkei reports that Honda will restart production of minicars for Japan (cars with engine displacements of 660 cc or less) after a hiatus of more than four years.

Honda stopped making cars with engine displacements of 660 cc or less in June 2007, farming out production to subsidiary Yachiyo Industry Co. Since then Honda’s sales in the segment have tumbled, falling by half to 160,000 cars a year. Instead, it poured resources into operations in key markets like the US. But demand for cheap, fuel-efficient minivehicles has remained strong; they now account for around 30% of all car sales in Japan by volume.

Immediately after taking the wheel at Honda in 2009, President Takanobu Ito decided to get back into the minicar game, predicting the segment will account for half the domestic auto market in the future. In July of last year, Ito announced he was scrapping a plan to build a new Yachiyo Industry auto plant in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture and would instead make minicars at Honda’s Suzuka factory.

Honda’s first new minicar will roll out in December—three months ahead of schedule. Two more models are due in 2012. Honda is targeting minicar sales of more than 300,000 units within five years.

September 10, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

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the government shjould have FORCED Honda to do that.

Come ON.

This may be much better than making huge Hummer monsters. We too may learn to build mini-cars in the not too distant future. At the rate that the USA economy (and many EU countries) is going down, about 50% may not be able to afford larger vehicles by 2020/2030. Ultra light weight re-enforced plastic mini e-cars may become a reality within 1 or 2 decades. It would be more than enough to drive to school, drive to work, drive to the local train station or to the local corner store. Large units could be available, for the occasional long trip, from a Car Sharing/Rental outfit. Why own a large vehicle that you really need only 2 or 3 weeks a year.

Families could own 2 to 4 mini e-cars. Most homes with two garages could easily fit 4 e-minis with slow chargers. Naysayers may never agree but they may not be able to afford more. The trend started in Japan will cross the ocean soon enough.

" Why own a large vehicle that you really need only 2 or 3 weeks a year."

This is the crux of many of our automotive problems - why do we drive such excessive vehicles when we only need their full potential occasionally ?

I will attempt to answer it:

a: People use cars as wealth display objects and so displaying as much money as possible is a goal.

b: Partial ownership is not easy for most people.
- Renting is tedious and expensive in terms of money and time.
- The legality of collective ownership and insurance is not easy (although it could be).

c: The cost of the extra fuel is not that much - especially in the USA. (it is a bit different in Europe and Japan). [ Although this may change ]


If it was easy to do a "rent/swap" in a peer to peer manner, this could help.

I.e. Joe owns a SUV, Mary owns a Fiat 500. Mary wants a big car on Saturday, so she drives to his house and swaps cars. She pays $50 / day for the privilege.
Both insurance companies know about this and cover it.
The deal could be set up online so there is a record of it etc.

The only hard thing is the insurance swap, and governments could legislate to allow (and force) this.

mahonj: Car Share firms offer almost the same priviledge. You joint the club, pick-up the car you wish at the neighborhood station and drive away. Return the car at any convenient pick-up/return station. User fees are charged to your credit card. Normally, you are charged by the minute or by the hour.

Another possible scheme would be to put your mini as an associated unit in the Car Share pool and get about 40% of the normal fee (if it is rented while you made it available) similar to time share apartments.

Just saw a Daihatsu? 'coper' two seater rear engined? rigid topped convertible ~ not more than 1 liter, park outside. The roof came out of the boot, the bonnet shut the quarter windows went up asdid the door windows.
I just had to ask the owner how many horsepower in the window winders?
She must have been a bit 'dizzy' cause she just laughed at me.
Oh well some owners are only into the looks and handling,etc. I must say it was very sexy.

A collector mate has a Honda 600/4 sports ( with a roller crank etc,) which he would only part with for cash.

Daihatsu made numerous 360cc + offerings all excellent.
I had a great run from that 360cc two stroke van.

Not great for the front end crash though. Oh well.
I wouldn't normally agree with Toppa Tom, but Honda really should be forced to make these micro's.

There are of course numerous other makers from Morgan and Messerschmidt? V - twins to Gogomobiles, Fiat Bambinos, Smarts and a plethora of new fuel injected and electric units.

It's not like they aren't about or without a following.

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