TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. on Wednesday forecast its annual car sales would grow 23 percent to 4 million units in three years as it expands in Asia and North America with the addition of more fuel-efficient products.
Announcing details of a three-year business plan ending in March 2008, Japan's third-biggest automaker also projected motorcycle sales of 16 million units, 53 percent more than last year. Honda is the world's top motorcycle maker.
Revenue should reach more than 10 trillion yen ($88.6 billion) in the final year of the plan, it said. Last year, Honda raked in record sales of 8.65 trillion yen.
"Sales should grow especially in Asia and China, but also in North America," President Takeo Fukui told a news conference. "But in general we expect growth all over the world to reach 4 million units."
In 2004, Honda was the world's eighth-biggest car brand, closely trailing Nissan Motor Co., which has targeted global sales of 4.2 million vehicles in the 12 months through March 2009.
Outlining details of how fuel economy would be boosted in each segment -- motorcycles, automobiles and power products -- Fukui said continued improvements in its powertrain technology were key to sharpening Honda's competitive edge.
"We plan to speed up our work on reducing harmful emissions," Fukui said.
As part of those efforts, Honda said it planned to roll out the Fit/Jazz subcompact model as an entry-level car in North America, starting with the October launch of the Brazil-built model in Mexico.
For the U.S. and Canadian markets, Honda will export the popular Fit from Japan starting next spring.
"We will expand our product lineup in response to rising fuel-economy needs," Fukui said.
Honda, long a leader in "green" powertrain technology, said it would improve its hybrid system while also speeding up development of zero-emission fuel-cell vehicles, with a target of marketing a fuel-cell motorcycle for leasing purposes by 2009.
To beef up fuel economy with the VTEC variable valve timing technology for automobiles and super-low-friction engines for motorcycles, among others, Fukui said Honda would continue to allocate more than 5 percent of sales for research and development. He also said Honda would expand capacity.
Projecting continued growth in Asia, Honda said it would double annual output capacity at a Thai engine plant to 300,000 units in spring 2006 with investments of about 4 billion yen.
Honda said it would also double output capacity in India by 2010 to 100,000 cars after having recently announced an expansion by two-thirds to 50,000 units by the end of this year, enabling production of the Civic model next year.
Fukui said Honda is also developing a new V-10 engine to power a fresh super sports car model to replace the NSX, which is due to be retired at the end of this year. He said he hoped to unveil the new sports car in three or four years.
In the year ended March 31, Honda, sold 3.242 million cars and light trucks, clearing the 3 million unit mark for the first time. For this year, it has forecast another 5.3 percent rise to 3.415 million.
In the motorcycle segment, it expects a 1.8 percent drop this year to 10.295 million units as sales in Asia decline from last year's high levels.