TOKYO - Production of the new Honda Civic has already has begun in the USA, Canada, the UK and Japan. That meant each plant had to be on a par with the others in production and engineering technology. Sufficient spare parts also had to be ready for the launch.
The simultaneous production start also meant that plant managers and workers were denied the opportunity of learning from the experience of a 'mother' plant that had started production earlier.
Honda 'must have gone through hard times' gearing up for the worldwide launch, said Kenji Tanaka, an analyst at Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo.
Later, production will be extended to Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Honda is betting its new Civics will help it to achieve its current five-year plan, which aims to boost unit sales 20 percent to 3 million in the year ending March 2004.
Although the company does not break down the sales target by model, a Honda spokesman said Civics will be crucial to fulfilling the goal.
Indeed, the Civic is the most important model in Honda's lineup.
In Europe, the Civic accounted for 72 percent of all Honda sales as recently as 1996, according to the Automotive News Europe Global Market Data Book. That fell to 41 percent in 1999, in part because of increased sales of new models based on the Civic platform, such as the CR-V.
Only in Japan, where Honda has a much more extensive product lineup, has the Civic lagged, accounting for less than 10 percent of Honda sales in recent years.
'Everything is up to Civic,' said Takaki Nakanishi, senior analyst at Merrill Lynch Japan Inc. 'If Civic tumbles, Honda will be in trouble.'