Honda Launching China-Only Brand
The extent to which Honda has lost its mojo has been a hot topic in these pages of late. Though the big H has stumbled with Acura, hybrids, design and other crucial areas, one major positive seems to persist: the strength of the Honda name. Which is why it’s so strange to read Bloomberg report that Honda will launch a new brand in China next year. The new brand, named Li Nian meaning “ideal” or “spirit”, will be used for Honda’s new sub-Fit small car, designed to take advantage of China’s reduced tax on engines smaller than 1.6 liters.
Li Nian is the first new brand introduced by a Chinese joint venture, as Li Nian vehicles will be built by Honda’s JV with Guangzhou Auto. Honda has no plans to export Li Nian vehicles due to profit-sharing with Guangzhou and possible cannibalization of Honda-brand vehicles. Though Honda sees the brand’s vehicles as the key to making inroads on China’s expanding rural markets, it offers no clues as to why a new brand name has been chosen. After all, if scooters can be sold with great success under the Honda name, why not small, low-cost cars?