LONDON - Honda Motor Co. Ltd. is investing more than E795 million in its Swindon, England, plant to produce 250,000 units a year.
A key part of this investment is E210 million being spent on taikai - production innovation - to allow a number of different models to be built on the same line.
The factory starts production of the new Civic this month. Five-door versions will go on sale in January and be exported to the rest of Europe. Swindon will also build the three-door version from mid-2001 and export it to Japan and Europe.
Honda announced its new investment in 1998 to increase production at Swindon from 100,000 to 250,000 units a year. This includes a second assembly plant for the Logo replacement, which comes on stream in mid-2001.
The taikai program began in October 1999.
Within six months, the CR-V was added to the Accord and Civic production line. A total of 20,000 CR-Vs will be assembled in a full year.
'It's not just tinkering. Taikai represents major changes to improve flexibility, so we can introduce new models from other plants to meet demand,' said Carolyn Johnston, corporate communications manager for Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd.
In 1992 Swindon was building cars in batches of 30, sorted by model, color and trim. That now is down to batches of five, and the goal is to build in any configuration of model, color and trim, one at a time, she said.
Swindon's engine plant already builds powertrains in sequence, a change from the original set up of separate lines for Civic and Accord engines.
The five-door Civic made its world debut at last month's Paris auto show.