Honda Motor Co., moving into aviation from automobiles and motorcycles, plans to start taking orders in Europe for its small business jet because of ``strong demand´´ for the U.S.-built aircraft.
Honda Aircraft Co. will begin selling the $ 3.7 million HondaJet, which can hold as many as eight people, at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva in May, the company said today in a statement. The unit of Tokyo-based Honda said it has more than 100 orders from North American customers.
`The expansion of HondaJet sales to Europe is an important step in the continued evolution of our business strategy,´´ Michimasa Fujino, chief executive officer of the unit, said in the statement. Fujino is also the aircraft´s principal designer.
Honda, the world´s biggest producer of motorcycles and engines and among the nine largest automakers by unit sales, wants to win a share of what it expects to be a growing market for small jets able to use tiny airfields not accessible to larger commercial and business planes.
That strategy will add Textron Inc., maker of Cessna aircraft, to traditional rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp. in autos and Yamaha Motor Co. and Harley-Davidson Inc. in motorcycles.
U.S. deliveries of HondaJets, to be built in Greensboro, North Carolina, are set to begin in 2010. The company didn´t say today how many it expects to sell in Europe. The additional market `is a direct response to strong demand´´ for the plane since it went on sale in the U.S. in 2006, Honda said.
The announcement is Honda´s second this week involving exports of U.S.-made products to new overseas markets. The company said April 14 it planned to ship Pilot sport-utility vehicles built in Alabama to Russia, starting late this year.
Honda´s American depositary receipts rose 48 cents to $ 29.59 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have fallen 11 percent this year.