Thursday, June 1, 2000
Honda Looks Homeward To Trim Reliance On N America  

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Honda Motor Co. aims to capture the No. 2 spot in the
domestic auto market and plans to reduce its reliance on sales in North
America, Honda President Hiroyuki Yoshino said Wednesday in an interview
with The Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
  Honda, currently ranked third in domestic market share, plans in fiscal 2003
to sell 900,000 new cars in Japan, up by 200,000 units from fiscal 1999, and
trailing only Toyota Motor Corp. , Yoshino said. He added that his
firm will roll out new models, bolster its marketing prowess and take other
steps as it charts an aggressive expansion here.
  Starting with the fall 2001 debut of a new subcompact "liter-car," which has
an engine displacement in the 1-liter class, Honda will roll out at least 20
new models, mainly subcompact sport utility vehicles, Yoshino said.
  Since fiscal 1998, the automaker's domestic sales have faltered, due mainly
to poor sales of liter-cars and other subcompacts. "We will radically revamp
our liter-car strategy and boost our domestic sales," he said.
  Honda will also take steps to improve its marketing ability. The company has
a sales staff of 11,000 at some 1,000 affiliated domestic dealerships, but
"in one or two years, we will increase that figure by roughly 10%," Yoshino
said.
  In conjunction with the increase, he said, Honda will distribute hand-held
terminals to its salespeople so they can use the Internet to show customers
data on new vehicles, including those of its rivals, and also get price
estimates. "Rookie sales staff will have the same information as veteran
workers," he said.
  Honda sold 2.47 million vehicles worldwide in fiscal 1999, surpassing Nissan
Motor Co.  for the first time. Honda plans to boost the total to 3
million units for fiscal 2003. But "due to concerns about the economy
pulling back in our mainstay North American market, we will be conservative
there," Yoshino said. Honda has set a fiscal 2003 sales target for North
America of 1.45 million new vehicles, an increase of 150,000 from fiscal
1999.
  Yoshino also emphasized that Honda will expand its partnership with General
Motors Corp. in cutting-edge technological areas, such as the environment
and information, as they pool managerial resources to complement each
another.
     

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Thursday, June 1, 2000
Honda Sees GM Ties As Path To Setting Standards  

TOKYO (Nikkei)--The auto industry is in a period of radical change in the
environmental and information arenas, and Honda Motor Co.  is rapidly
drawing closer to General Motors Corp. as a result.
  "GM has the power to determine technological standards and create major
trends," Honda President Hiroyuki Yoshino said Wednesday. Meanwhile, the U.S
giant looks to Honda for engine technology and other such advances. "GM is
an ally, and our relationship will develop," Yoshino said in an interview
with The Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
  Honda and GM are now looking to expand the scope of their cooperation to
cover a wide range of fields, from the environment to information to safety.
Unlike Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG, which form alliances with an
eye toward an eventual takeover, Honda sees GM as a "comfortable partner,"
Yoshino said.
  Honda and GM are likely to cultivate an "alliance" similar to the one the
U.S. firm enjoys with Toyota Motor Corp. .
  At the end of last year, Honda agreed to supply GM with low-emission
engines. On the heels of that deal, Honda recently agreed to use GM's OnStar
information service, which can provide directions, track a stolen car or
notify authorities in the event of an accident. In addition, Honda is
looking into a technology and services alliance with XM Satellite Radio
Inc., a digital satellite radio broadcaster in which GM has an equity
interest.
  Honda is also weighing cooperation with GM in the field of fuel cells, which
are seen to be the technology of choice for the next generation of
eco-friendly autos.
  The fuel cell arena is dividing into two main camps. GM and Toyota are
working together, while Ford and DaimlerChrysler are cooperating in an
effort with Ballard Power Systems Inc.
  Honda has been planning to tackle fuel-cell-powered vehicles on its own, but
is likely to join the GM and Toyota camp in areas such as setting standards
for fuel types and creating an infrastructure for the technology.