BEIJING -- Honda Motor Co. will begin selling Acura vehicles in China next spring, the first time Acuras will be sold outside of North America.
The RL sedan will be exported from Japan to China. As Honda expands the Acura lineup in China, the company is not ruling out exporting models made in the United States to China.
"We haven't a concrete plan to export from North America yet, but that is possible," says Masaya Nagai, spokesman for Honda Motor (China) Investment Co.
Honda aims to sell 3,000 Acura RL sedans in China in 2006. By 2009 it hopes to sell 10,000 to 15,000 units a year, Nagai says.
"We can expand the model lineup in the future, but that hasn't been finalized," he says. China production isn't likely any time soon because of modest anticipated sales, he says.
Honda Motor Co. assembles the Acura MDX SUV and EL sedan in Alliston, Ontario. It assembles the Acura TL sedan in Marysville, Ohio. The EL is a reworked Honda Civic sold in Canada but not the United States.
Honda hasn't set the price for the RL in China, Nagai says. But it should sell for around 700,000 yuan, or $86,300 at current exchange rates, says Yale Zhang, head of emerging markets vehicle forecasts for CSM Asia in Shanghai.
Less expensive Acura models such as the TL sedan also would do well in China, Zhang figures. If priced around $49,300, it would compete against the domestically assembled Toyota Crown and imported Nissan Fuga sedans.
Honda Motor's two joint ventures sold 117,641 light vehicles in China in the first six months of the year, a 41.4 percent increase over the same period in 2004.
The most expensive model Honda makes in China is the $30,200 Honda Accord sedan. Say Nagai: "Customer needs in the luxury category are expanding rapidly."
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