Honda launches R&D centre in China to tailor cars for local drivers

Reuters

SHANGHAI, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co Ltd hasopened a new research and development centre in China, thelatest move by a Japanese carmaker to go local to capture moreconsumers in the world's biggest auto market.

The establishment of Honda Motor China Technology Co in thesouthern city of Guangzhou is designed to strengthen R&D, partsprocurement and production functions in China, Honda said in astatement on Tuesday.

Japanese carmakers have been trying to catch up with globalrivals such as Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co in localising production in China to track consumers'needs as well as cut costs.

Honda said on Monday that its October China sales more thantripled from a year earlier. The sharp rise was partly due tothe low comparison base from last year when sales were hit by aflare-up in anti-Japanese sentiment following a territorialdispute.

The company has previously said that of the 12 new carmodels to be introduced to China during the 2013-2015 period,five will be China-exclusive models, including two developedlocally.

In August, Toyota Motor Corp began construction ofa new R&D facility in China, with its local partner FAW Group.The division will hire more than 1,000 people and promote thedevelopment of local brands.

Rival Nissan Motor Corp has launched its fifthglobal design centre in Beijing.

So far, much of the localisation of auto parts by Japan'scarmakers has been limited to firms supplying electrical andinterior parts that are considered less vital to car safety.

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