Chinese-built cars are arriving in North America, but before you reach for the keypad, we’re not talking about hordes of BYD, Chery, Geely or Brilliance models washing up on our shores, rather the fact that Honda is now importing Chinese assembled examples of its Fit subcompact for consumers in Canada.
This forms part of a decision by Honda and other Japanese automakers to reduce dependence on vehicle production in the Home Islands due to the current high value of the yen against other major world currencies, which is severely eating into profit margins.
In Honda’s case it also helps squeeze more money out of its small cars, which are relatively popular with buyers in Canada, yet traditionally far less profitable than larger models.
In terms of quality (often a subject that’s brought up regarding Chinese consumer goods), Honda says it shouldn’t be an issue, it’s Canadian executive vice president Jerry Cherkin stating, “we are fully confident that these vehicles meet all Honda standards.”
Honda has been exporting Chinese built Fits for some time, particularly to European countries (where it’s sold as the Jazz) with few issues, thus in many regards adding Canada to the roster of export markets seems a logical step.
However, despite these Fits showing up on dealer lots north of the border, so far, there are no plans to sell such cars in the United States.
Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com believes American consumers are more resistant to the idea of buying Chinese products, especially cars, thus the concept of doing so at this point, given that the US is still a major source of both profit and prestige for Japanese automakers, would probably not work in Honda’s favor.
[Source: NY Times]