In a recent interview with the Nikkei, Honda President Takanobu Ito said that the company will tailor its offerings to the specific needs of each region, be it Japan or emerging markets. He also stressed that Honda will redouble efforts to expand minicar operations (earlier post) as a way of maintaining domestic output.
The demand structure itself has changed since the financial crisis. Products sold in industrialized markets may no longer necessarily sell the same way in emerging markets. Products targeting local tastes need to be developed. The important thing is that this must be done quickly and at low cost. Because the marketplace is changing rapidly, missteps in timing can be detrimental.
...Our vehicle development has traditionally focused on such specific markets as Japan, the U.S. or Europe. Vehicles were then modified for emerging markets. This will change, as Honda will develop the next-generation Fit at each R&D base in the world’s six regions simultaneously. Each base will face its share of challenges, but it is now necessary in this day and age.—Takanobu Ito
Ito also said that while Honda—like its competitors—is working to develop more fuel-efficient engines, the company believes it can achieve better fuel economy using a hybrid approach.
Honda is preparing to launch more compact cars that employ our low-cost hybrid vehicle system, IMA. We want to offer hybrids at enticing prices so that more customers can purchase them. We are also going to develop a high-performance hybrid system so that we can roll out midsize hybrids.—Takanobu Ito