Although the brand has no plans to highlight the cars’ origins their appearance in UK showrooms will mark a significant arrival from a country that is on course to eclipse the USA as a car producer by the end of the decade with 5.5 million cars likely to be built each year.
Honda Automobile China president Hironori Kanayama is keen to allay retailers’ fears that Jazz models built in Guangzhou will have inferior quality levels to those made in other Honda factories, including the successful UK Swindon Civic and CRV operation. He cites an existing Chinese Honda plant coming top out of a quality poll across 19 company factories, plus consistently high QSI and CSI ratings from JD Power in China. “China is part of our ‘made by Global Honda’ philosophy,” he says.
Jazz sells around 16,000 units a year in the UK out of 54,000 sold across Europe, where most of remaining Chinese-made cars will be shipped. A major factor in the decision to import to Britain lies in “considerable cost benefits”, including an average annual production worker’s wage of just £2,552.
Issuing a warning about China’s burgeoning power as a car producer, Kanayama says: “We aim to be able to export Chinese built cars anywhere in the world.” He predicts other carmakers will follow suit, including Nissan and Toyota.
Honda expects to build 240,000 Chinese cars this year including the Odyssey MPV, Accord saloon and a saloon equivalent of the Jazz, called Fit in China or Fit Aria in Japan.