Honda Motor Co. has begun local production at its first-ever African automobile plant in what the the Japan-based company described as an epoch-making challenge, MarketWatch reports.
The plant is located in Nigeria, and the company is counting on the automobile market to expand in West Africa, Honda said in a prepared statement.
South Africa was the No. 1 country in Africa for motor vehicle production in 2014, followed by Morocco, Egypt, Kenya and Zimbabwe at No. 5, according to the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles, or OICA (International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.)
Actual production rates vary greatly between countries.
In 2014, South Africa produced 566,083 units; Morocco produced 231986 units; Egypt produced 27,020 units; Kenya produced 3,080 units; and Zimbabwe produced 829 units, OICA reported. The OICA defines motor vehicles as passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, minibuses, trucks, buses and coaches.
Honda established its new automobile plant at an existing Honda motorcycle production plant, installing automobile production facilities and equipment on the property, the company said in a press release.
It is building Honda Accord sedans at the Nigeria plant with a capacity for 1,000 units.
“Our production volume is still small,” said Yusuke Hori, head of Africa and the Middle East for Honda in a statement. “However, we will strive to… expand our business in Africa in the future.”
The new plant is Honda’s first automobile production plant in Africa, MarketWatch reports.
Honda considers Africa a new growth market. The company established a local subsidiary in South Africa in 2000 and an automobile sales office in Kenya in 2011, followed by a motorcycle production and sales subsidiary in 2013.
“Establishment of the first Honda automobile production plant in Africa is an epoch-making challenge for us,” said Yoshi Yamane, director of Honda Motor Co. “I expect that this initiative will lead to a great leap in our automobile business in Nigeria and become a first step toward expansion to the entire African market.”