Honda Motor Co’s says it has begun the building of cars in Nigeria by retooling part of its factory that previously made motorcycles. The firm’s new chief executive, Takahiro Hachigo, said this at his first news conference since taking the helm in June, on Monday in Tokyo. Hachigo said the company, which began production in July (this month), planned to produce 1,000 of its Accord sedans annually at the plant.
The new chief executive said Honda would boost the production if the local market grows, adding that the plant would service other African countries. Meanwhile, Hachigo says it has no plans for now to provide financial aid to Takata Corp, the air bag supplier at the centre of a costly global air bag recall. However, Hachigo said Honda had set aside enough to cover the cost of recalling over 2 million cars with potentially faulty air bag parts made by Takata. “We have money budgeted for quality-related costs, as we did last year, and we think we can respond within this allocated amount,” Hachigo told reporters.
Last month, Honda revised its operating profit for the year ended March to 606.88 billion yen ($4.92 billion) from the 651.68 billion yen it reported in April to account for expanded recall costs. At 55, Hachigo, begins his stewardship of Japan’s third-biggest auto maker with a mission to restore the firm’s reputation for quality. In the Takata air bag safety scare regulators have linked eight deaths to the component, all in cars made by Honda. Hachigo’s predecessor Takanobu Ito and other executives took a pay cut last October, following a fifth recall of its Fit hybrid subcompact in a year. which had quality glitches unrelated to Takata-made inflators. In total, tens of millions of cars carrying Takata-made parts have been recalled around the world by a range of auto makers. Some Takata air bag inflators have exploded with too much force, spraying shrapnel inside vehicles, regulators have found. As Hachigo seeks to develop business, he said the company remained open to alliances with other automakers – as long as such tie-ups were of benefit to Honda. In one such deal, the Japanese firm already has an alliance with General Motors Co, to develop hydrogen fuel-cell technology.