Honda, Japan’s No.3 carmaker and the world’s biggest manufacturer of motorcycles and engines will start producing small commercial airplanes later this year—three years behind schedule and 26 years after launching the program.
The company, which began researching the potential for a small jet business in the mid-1980’s, will focus on the U.S. and European markets for now.
The company has extended its auto assembly line manufacturing moxie to private jets by utilizing just-in-time inventory control, faster tact times allowing it to turn out 80 jets a year—nearly double the industry average.
The company received more than 100 orders for the seven-seater jet in three days when it began taking orders in 2006, promising a quieter engine, 20 percent better fuel economy over competing models and operational costs of two-thirds or less.
“We’re doing with HondaJet what the Civic did to American cars from the 1960s. Our competitors are still producing with technology from the 1990s,” he said, referring to Textron Inc’s Cessna and Brazil’s Embraer SA, which now dominate the 200-a-year small business jet market.
The company will consider establishing sales offices in emerging markets such as China and Brazil, with India and the Middle East also potential markets, Fujino said.
The overall business jet market shrank after the financial crisis, Fujino said, but added that demand has started to rebound recently.