TOKYO -- Honda Motor is ready to take its seven-seat business jet for a climb.
The company plans to triple production to six planes a month and produce the HondaJet in volumes of around 70 per year as early as 2018.
Tokyo-based Honda completed development at the end of 2015 and immediately began accepting orders and assembling the $4.5 million aircraft at its plant in the U.S. state of North Carolina.
With sales targeted at private companies and wealthy individuals mainly in the Americas and Europe, the North Carolina plant makes the HondaJet one at a time and currently finishes around two planes a month.
The global market for small business jets like Honda's currently supports 200 planes a year, but annual demand is expected to grow to some 300-400 planes over the next four years.
Honda's goal is to sell around 70 HondaJets a year in 2018-2019, so it plans to ramp up annual production to a similar scale, having determined that the workers at the North Carolina plant have honed their skills and can now handle the larger volume.
Honda believes it can boost production to that level without any additional equipment or expansion of the workforce by introducing a networked system to manage the supply of parts and the thousands of steps involved in assembly.
With such a system in place, Honda will be able to boost output and shorten delivery times to just three to four months, compared with the more than two years customers now must wait after placing an order.