GREENSBORO, United States (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co <7267.T> expects to ramp up production of business jets as part of its plan to expand in the growing industry, the head of the Japanese automaker's aircraft operations said in the United States.
The firm hoped to produce 80 business jets annually by March 2019, from up to 36 currently, Honda Aircraft Company CEO Michimasa Fujino told reporters at its plant in Greensboro, North Carolina.
"By the end of the 2018 financial year (in March 2019), we'd like to be near full production of around 80 units," he said.
The company began deliveries of its $4.5 million jets in December and says it has received around 100 orders so far, mainly from customers in North America and Europe.
Honda is Japan's first automaker to develop and market aircraft globally. Its luxury jets seat up to seven people and have engines mounted above the wings, enabling roomier cabins, reduced noise and higher fuel efficiency.
The jet competes with similar-sized aircraft produced by Cessna <TXT.N>, Bombardier Inc <BBDb.TO> and Embraer SA <EMBR3.SA>.
Honda Aero Inc, which jointly developed the jet's HF 120 engine with General Electric Co <GE.N>, currently procures all of its parts from outside suppliers, but company President Atsukuni Waragai said it would begin producing a number of parts in-house from next March.
(Reporting by Maki Shiraki, writing by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Stephen Coates)