Japanese firm Honda is to make a renewed offensive on the European market to boost sales

Honda is to make a renewed offensive on the European market and plans to set up an advanced design centre in the UK, according to the company’s boss.

Takanobu Ito, president and CEO of Honda, admitted that the company has “focused too much on emerging markets in recent years” and says European business has suffered as a result. Honda sold 54,000 cars in the UK in 2011 compared to 100,000 in 2008.

At this week’s Tokyo motor show Honda made it clear that it intends to further develop its green technology as a priority, and Ito described Europe as “the most challenging market, but it is also really thinking about the future, and so we must be successful there if we are to succeed elsewhere.”

The planned advanced design centre in the UK would be a base for Honda’s renewed European push, although company top brass are still uncertain where the new facility could be set up.

A range of new powertrains, including a vital low-emission 1.6-litre diesel motor that is going in the new Civic later next year, will be key to the company’s plans, as will the hybrid and electric cars that it will roll out in Japan and America first before Honda considers their application in other markets.

The range-topping global coupé that will be previewed at Detroit in January will be a kick-start for the brand’s image and Ito also stated that Honda “will start to look at an A-segment car for the European market” after it has introduced further efficiency improvements to the Jazz range.

The overall message from Honda and its president was that now is “a time of change” for the company – and that much of the change would be rooted in Europe.

Vicky Parrott

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