Honda chief eyes more exports from US

Honda chief executive Takanobu Ito wants to boost the Japanese carmaker's exports from the United States to counterbalance the effects of the strong yen, he said in an interview.

"Our US plants export just 6 percent to 7 percent of production. But they should be able to do more than that," Ito told the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

"If there's enough demand from other regions for larger vehicles, then closer to 20 percent is conceivable," he added.

While the yen has eased from record highs hit last year, its continued strength makes exports from Japan more expensive, and Ito said Honda was not likely to ramp up overseas shipments from its domestic plants.

"The old structure of relying on Japan as chief export platform was unnatural," he said.

Honda, Japan's third biggest automaker, currently exports five models from the United States -- the Accord and Civic sedans, the Pilot and MDX sport utility vehicles, and the Odyssey minivan.

Last year, it exported 55,000 vehicles from North America.

Also last year, the company suffered production delays triggered by the quake-tsunami disaster in Japan and record flooding in Thailand. This year, it returned to full production.

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