SWINDON, England - Honda will build a new assembly plant at its factory complex here by 2000. It will raise capacity in the United Kingdom to 250,000 units, 100,000 more than the current total.
In 2002, Honda will produce a new supermini in Swindon in addition to the Civic and Accord.
The company said it will invest £450 million ($735 million) at Swindon by the end of 2002, including $212 million for the second assembly plant at the site.
The second plant will start producing a new Civic in 2000.
Honda also announced that it will invest $327 million to develop the new Civic and a new Accord that goes into production in Swindon next month.
A further $212 million will be spent to upgrade the existing assembly plant.
'Europe is now more important than ever for our growth,' said Honda President Nobuhiko Kawa-moto. 'Our current model lineup in Europe consists of medium and large cars. The small car, with its environmental benefits, will play an increasing role in future customer choice.'
SALES GOALS RISE
Honda sold 235,288 cars in Europe last year and aims to sell 250,000 this year. It plans 300,000 sales in 2000 for 2 percent of the European market.
But Honda executives say growth hinges on selling more small cars. Honda's top European sellers are the Civic and the Accord.
In mid-1999, Honda will introduce two new superminis from Japan. They are based on the J-Mover concept car series that was shown at the Geneva auto show in March. They will be aimed at cars in the Ford Fiesta and GM Corsa class.
Honda will add a third car in 2000.
The J-Mover series will be imported from Japan in modest numbers, according to a company spokesman. He said the supermini to be built in Swindon starting in 2002 will differ from the J-Mover series.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE
'Honda's decision to build its new small car at Swindon is a massive vote of confidence in Britain as a center for car production,' said Margaret Beckett, Trade and Industry secretary for the United Kingdom.
The investment will give a boost to domestic component makers, she added.
Honda began engine assembly at Swindon in 1990. Car production started in 1992.
Honda will build 130,000 cars at Swindon this year, including 65,000 Civic five-door models, 20,000 Civic Aerodecks and 36,000 Accords.