Details are still thin, but Honda seems to be preparing to shift manufacturing of several models over 400cc out of Japan and into Thailand, citing the growing strength of the Yen and a need to attend to emerging markets. Don’t worry, flagship models such as the CBR1000RR, CBR600RR, and Goldwing will most likely remain under Japanese-only production. But, bikes like the 599 and 919 Hornets, plus the XR650 and other entry-level models could be wearing “Made in Thailand” stickers as early as mid-2012.
The news of the strategic move makes perfect sense for curtailing production costs while continuing to infiltrate emerging markets. As major corporate moves by Harley-Davidson into India and the KTM-Bajaj expansion into Malaysia have made evident, the South and East Asian motorcycle markets are massive and ever on the rise, dwarfing the US in volume. No wonder, then, that Honda is also looking to capitalize on both existing and new riders with growing incomes looking to match their new financial status with larger machines, yet affordable machines.
What does this mean? While the US market remains and will continue to remain viable to a certain degree, the writing is on the wall, folks. Unless the days of boundless credit magically return like winged unicorns, or the CBR250R turns into American Honda’s all-time best seller, corporate resources for catering to the US market are in serious risk of getting considerably thinner.