Dongfeng Honda Automobile Co., Ltd. has expanded its capacity by 80,000 units annually with the start of production of the Spirior this week. The joint-venture of Honda in China held an “off-line” ceremony at its automobile production plant in Wuhan, Hubei Province. The Spirior is scheduled to go on sale next month in China.
The mid-size car is essentially the same as the European Accord or American Acura TSX with the V6 removed and a 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine substituted. (China has tougher fuel economy standards than the U.S. in an attempt to decrease oil imports.)
Spirior is positioned as a “premium sporty sedan, according to Dongfeng. The name, if my limited Chinese translation skills are close, appears to be a combination of “spirit” and “superior,” thereby confirming that automotive marketers continue to mangle whatever language they are working over.
Dongfeng Honda has been producing CR-V models since April 2004, and Civic models since 2006. The company’s sales are growing — 109,000 units for the first seven months of 2009, up 10.5% compared to the same period a year ago. The Chinese market is now the world’s largest. Chinese industrial policy requires all auto companies to form joint ventures with local auto companies so jobs are created and profits remain in the country.
To make way for the Spirior, Dongfeng upped its annual production capacity in Wuhan from 120,000 units to 200,000 units. With this expansion, Honda’s total annual automobile production capacity in China is 610,000 units, including 360,000 units for Guangqi Honda and 50,000 units for Honda Automobile (China), which produces automobiles exclusively for export. About 4,000 jobs have been created.