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Guangzhou Honda announces new China-only brand: Li Nian

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From Leftlane.

Honda has officially announced their plans to build an all-new model developed and badged by its state-run Chinese joint venture, Guangzhou Honda Automobile, Ltd. The Japanese headquarters of Honda has invested 30 billion yen ($265 million U.S.) in a Chinese research and development center to create a new brand of China-specific vehicles.

Honda hasn't announced just how many or what type of vehicles they plan to produce and design, but given the official directive that the new cars will feature a China-specific design and branding, it's evident that Honda is very serious about the Chinese market. We wouldn't expect these Guangzhou Honda-branded vehicles to be sold outside of China, at least initially.

Guangzhou Honda has been producing cars for Honda in Japan since 1999. Currently, Guangzhou Honda produces Jazz and Accord models at the Honda Automobile (China) Company plant, but nearly all of those vehicles are exported - primarily to Europe.
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When Guangzhou Honda pulls the wraps off its first self-designed vehicles later this month at the Guangzhou auto show, it will be leading a charge by some of China's largest automakers, virtually all of which expect to introduce their own homegrown models over the next two years.

Companies such as Dongfeng Motor in Wuhan, First Auto Group (FAW) in Changchun, and Shanghai Auto (SAIC) all have announced plans to launch their own self-branded cars, backed by substantial investments and often using technology borrowed from their foreign joint-venture partners.

Guangzhou Honda, for instance, reportedly is using components from the Honda Accord for at least one of its new models, a 2.0-liter midsize sedan that is slated to begin production in late 2008 or early 2009. The company is spending $270 million on the new range of cars that will not carry the Honda brand.

Dongfeng, which numbers Nissan, Honda, Kia and PSA Peugeot Citroën among its partners, is investing $1.3 billion to develop a whole family of self-branded cars by 2010, when it plans to build and sell more than 300,000 units a year.

FAW, which is partnered with Toyota and VW-Audi, has earmarked $1.7 billion over eight years to develop and produce its own range of vehicles under the Hongqi (Red Flag) and other brand names.

SAIC, affiliated with VW and General Motors, has far and away the most ambitious self-brand strategy, investing $2.8 billion to create a full portfolio of models, beginning with the Rover-based Roewe 750 sedan. SAIC envisions annual production capacity of nearly 300,000 for its own brands.
Guangzhou Honda presented first vehicle under newly established brand at 2008 Auto China in Beijing:

2008 guangben linian:


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Honda announces new China-only sub-brand: Li Nian.

Honda’s joint venture company in China Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co., Ltd. has announced a new car brand called Li Nian, which is positioned much alike to what Toyota is doing with its Scion brand in the United States. A rough translation or meaning to Li Nian is “idea”, according to Guangzhou Honda.

The company displayed the Li Nian Concept at the 2008 Beijing International Automobile Exhibition, which is set to be one of the Li Nian brand’s first cars. The Li Nian Concept is a compact SUV-like vehicle based on the Honda Jazz / Honda Fit platform.

Unlike the Jazz/Fit’s L-series engines, the Li Nian Concept is powered by a 1.8 liter engine, most likely the R18A1 SOHC i-VTEC engine. It’s styling is decidedly European, with obvious cues taken from the Volkswagen iroc Concept and Ford’s new Kinetic design Fiesta and Kuga SUV.

Li Nian’s first production car will be based on this concept design, and will make its debut in 2010. The Li Nian Concept was designed entirely by Guangzhou Honda Automobile R&D, and while Honda Japan will support the company, most R&D, marketing and sales efforts will be initiated by the Chinese company.
Guangzhou Honda to launch new small car Li Nian

January 20, 2009
Honda Motor's Chinese venture Guangzhou Honda is set to introduce its cheapest car to follow the automotive trend in the China market, and to benefit from the government's sustained support for small vehicles, media reported.

The car, developed by Honda and local partner Guangzhou Auto Group, will have an engine smaller than 1.6 liters and sell under a new China brand Li Nian. "The under-1.6-liter mass-market segment is really hot [in China] right now," said a Honda executive. "We see Li Nian as the product that will be able to compete in this range."

Last year, China overtook the U.S. as the world's largest auto market and sales growth in rural areas exceeded that of urban regions for the first time. Honda's City and Fit compact models, both with engines below 1.6 liters, have faced competition in China from Nissan's cheaper Livina model, said Bloomberg News.

Nissan outsold both Honda and Toyota in China last year, as demand for Nissan's vehicles surged 39%. The Chinese government reduced the sales tax on new vehicles with engines of 1.6 liters or smaller to 5% from 10% one year ago. This incentive continues this year, though the rate was rolled back to 7.5%.

Li Nian, which literally in Chinese means "ideal" or "spirit," is the first original brand developed between a foreign automaker and local joint-venture company in China, according to Honda.

Honda operates another joint venture in China with Dongfeng Motor Group. The JV plans to lift its production capacity at its Hubei plant to 240,000 vehicles this year from 200,000.
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Li Nian “Everus” sedan – Chinese market Honda concept

Honda will be exhibiting this Li Nian concept car at Auto China 2010 in Beijing this year. Li Nian is basically a Chinese market only brand that Honda and their Chinese partner Guangqi Honda Automobile (previously known as Guangzhou Honda Automobile – the namechange happened in April 2009) have been working on.

This is not the first Li Nian car we’ve seen – a compact SUV concept built on the Jazz platform as well as an open top roadster that looks like it’s meant to be a somewhat like a next generation Honda S2000 was first shown at Auto China 2010 in April 2008.

This latest Li Nian Concept is a sedan that I’m assuming is called the “Everus” and it looks something like a Honda City with rear design cues from the Honda Airwave and a large Acura-like grille on the front. The photos don’t really give any indication on what size the vehicle is – the front looks very grand like it belongs on a larger vehicle but the side profile looks like a smaller sedan.

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