Apr 23, 2015 6:42 AM

Honda shows new business jet in Japan

The Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) Honda, known for making motorcycles and cars, is showing its new sleek business jet in Japan for the first time, billing it as quiet, quick and green.

The jet, on show at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Thursday, is the culmination of founder Soichiro Honda's longtime dream to have a plane in Honda Motor Co.'s lineup.

Honda Aircraft Chief Michimasa Fujino told reporters he hopes it will become available within a few years in Japan, where regulation means the private jet market is almost nonexistent.

Currently, the jet is on sale in the United States and Europe.

The jet, which seats six or seven, starts at $4.5 million. Honda has received 100 orders, and deliveries are likely to begin later this year.

"I know people are working hard for deregulation," Fujino told reporters. "It won't happen immediately but there is a chance in the long run."

He said Japanese government officials and others for whom saving time is critical should use such jets and fight the "fat cat image" of flying on executive jets.

Potential is also great for China and the rest of Asia, where demand is likely to overtake South America's by 2020, Fujino said.

Development of a jet began in 1986 at Honda, several years before the death of its founder in 1991.

The HondaJet, as it is called, whose design was based on a Salvatore Ferragamo high-heel shoe, rolled into a hangar at Haneda.

The aircraft, built in North Carolina, is set to fly into other airports in Japan, including Sendai and Kobe, before heading to an aviation show in Geneva Switzerland.

Fujino said the HondaJet adheres to top safety standards and outperforms the equivalent offerings from Cessna of the U.S. and Embraer of Brazil in fuel efficiency and altitude that it can reach.

Honda is out to change the aviation industry in the same way it changed American auto culture, Fujino said.

Honda was instrumental in influencing U.S. auto tastes with its Accord and other popular nifty models offering excellent mileage.

Honda already makes cars, boats, lawn mowers, scooters and the Asimo robot. The HondaJet marks its foray into aviation.

"To offer personal mobility in the skies was the dream of Soichiro Honda and the dream of us Honda men," said Honda President Takanobu Ito. "Today is a symbolic day."


Follow Yuri Kageyama: http://www.twitter.com/yurikageyama


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