Motor Co. expects to grab at least a quarter of the world market for
small business jets soon after delivering its first aircraft next year,
achieving the company's long-standing goal of taking to the skies, an
Honda, Japan's No.3 car maker and the world's
biggest manufacturer of motorcycles and engines, is in the final stages
of getting its $4.5 million HondaJet certified. It aims to ramp up the
pace of production to 80 a year in the first half of 2013.
received more than 100 orders for the seven-seater jet in three days
when it began taking orders in 2006, promising a quieter engine, 20
percent better fuel economy over competing models and operational costs
of two-thirds or less.
It has not disclosed an updated number of
orders, but Michimasa Fujino, a Honda executive and CEO of its North
Carolina-based subsidiary, Honda Aircraft Company, said it held a
backlog of about three years from orders taken through its nine
dealerships in North America and Europe.
"I'm very optimistic
about our prospects," Fujino, who initiated Honda's foray into aviation
research in 1986, told a small group of reporters at the automaker's
Tokyo headquarters on Monday.
"We're doing with HondaJet what the
Civic did to American cars from the 1960s. Our competitors are still
producing with technology from the 1990s," he said, referring to Textron
Inc.'sCessna and Brazil's Embraer SA, which now dominate the 200-a-year
small business jet market.
The Civic, known for its reliability,
durability and mileage, has consistently been among the United States'
best-selling cars since its launch in 1973, forcing industry giants such
as General Motors Co (GM.N) to follow suit with cars to meet the
country's tighter emissions regulations.
Honda's ambition of
making jets traces back to its iconic founder, Soichiro Honda. The
HondaJet will make Honda the only car maker in the world to build its
Its engine is made by a joint venture between Honda and General Electric Co.
Honda Aircraft is aiming to turn a profit by 2018, Fujino said.
BRAZIL, CHINA CLAMOURING FOR JETS
business jet industry is expecting a rebound in sales this year after
the global economic crisis hammered sales over the past three years.
the small business jet market has traditionally been limited to North
America and Europe so far, Fujino said he was fielding about a call a
week from China, both from prospective buyers and eager dealers, while
interest was also greater than he anticipated in Brazil, India and the
"Right now we want to focus on delivering on the
orders that we have, but I'd like to enter Brazil and China earlier than
we'd initially planned," he said, declining to specify a timeframe. New
demand from emerging markets could expand the global small-jet market
to about 300 a year, he said.
Fujino said he was also seeing more
interest in the smallest end of the market as medium-sized jet users
look to downsize to get more for their fuel, much like the trend in the
"Most of our customers are owners of small- and
medium-sized businesses, and many are looking to get the most out of the
jets that they need," he said.
With operational costs of about
$1,000-$1,200 an hour, HondaJet could make traveling in a group of five
or six cheaper and more efficient than flying commercially between small
cities, he said. Competitors offer at best $1,800 by comparison, he
Honda Aircraft will add 300-350 factory staff to bring its
total workforce to around 1,000 in the first half of 2013, Fujino said.
While the Honda EV
(shown on the right) looks like a dressed up Honda Fit, there is no indication
as to whether or not this zero emission electric vehicle will sport the Fit name when it reaches the US market or if it will have its own
unique name. We do know that the Honda EV Concept (or whatever the production
version is called) will be powered by a lithium ion battery system and a coaxial
electric motor derived from the one used in the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell
The drivetrain of the Honda EV Concept will
allow the driver to select three different driving modes ? Economy, Normal and
Sport ? to provide the ideal balance of power and efficiency for every driving
condition. A similar version of this system was introduced in the US on the CR-Z
Hybrid to offer optimized performance for the driving conditions. When Economy
mode is selected, the Honda EV Concept will have a range of roughly 100 miles
while acceleration and top speed is hindered. When the driver selects Normal
mode, the Honda EV will offer better performance while offering roughly 17% less
range (that would mean that it could go about 83 miles on a charge) and when
shifted into Sport mode, the EV Concept will reach a top speed of 90 miles per
hour but the range is chopped down to roughly 75 miles.
The Honda EV also features an assist
program that coaches the driver to maximize efficiency based on the selected
driving mode, including letting the driver know when to turn off certain
accessories to increase the battery range. Once the battery has been run down,
the Honda EV Concept will fully recharge in "less than 12 hours" with a standard
120V line and hooking up to the 240V charging station will cut charge time to
under 6 hours.
Unfortunately, in addition to not giving
any idea as to what the Honda EV Concept will be called once it reaches
production, Honda hasn't offered any idea as to when those production models
will reach showrooms around the world. Based on what other EV-makers have done,
the Honda EV (or Honda Fit EV, as it could be called) will first hit certain
American markets followed by a full scale roll out later in 2012.