TOKYO, June 14 Japan's Honda Motor Co.
will delay the start of production of gasoline-electric hybrid
cars in China in a bid to source cheaper parts, a company
official said, in an apparent response to rival Toyota's
Honda had intended to start local production of hybrid cars
in China by as early as next year, but said on Friday local
production had been put back "to within three years" in order to
source cheaper components from parts suppliers in China.
"Affordability is critical," said Natsuno Asanuma, the Honda
spokeswoman in Beijing.
Honda provided no further details about the type of
components it wanted to source more cheaply, or on possible
joint ventures with Chinese companies.
China has been the world's biggest auto market since 2009,
but hybrid sales have been comparatively slow. That could soon
change, however, as Beijing is looking at boosting subsidies to
increase sales of "new-energy" cars.
Honda's delay comes after Toyota Motor Corp said
last month it was trying to source key hybrid components in
China to make hybrids more affordable. Toyota said it was
planning a joint venture in China with a local supplier to
produce batteries for gas-electric hybrid cars.
The move comes as Toyota - and other automakers in China,
both indigenous Chinese and foreign - gear up to try to
kick-start sales of "conventional" hybrid cars in China in
anticipation of policy changes aimed at boosting sales of hybrid
Under the current policy, China provides generous subsidies
for private purchases of all-electric battery vehicles and
heavily electrified "near all-electric" plug-in hybrids, but
only limited support for the conventional gas-electric hybrids.
A growing number of industry insiders and experts believe
Beijing will boost purchase subsidies significantly for
conventional hybrids as early as this year.
On Friday, Honda also said it planned to introduce 12 new or
significantly redesigned models before the end of 2015 in China.
Previously, Honda had said it planned to launch more than 10
such new and significantly redesigned models in China.