TOKYO -- Suddenly, Honda Motor Co. looks like the odd man in Japan.
Toyota just added Suzuki to its growing stable of partners, and Nissan is poised to take control of Mitsubishi. Meanwhile, Honda is left by its lonesome in the face of industry consolidation.
But Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo tells Automotive News his company is perfectly happy on its own, with its middling global sales level of 5 million units, even as rivals race toward volumes double that size.
Honda will pursue technical tie-ups where they are a win-win, he said in an Oct. 12 interview. But Hachigo says the industry's craze for consolidation won't trigger any knee-jerk reactions from Honda.
"We don't have any aspirations to make it 10 million," he said, referring to the global sales tallies at his top-tier competitors, Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors, Volkswagen and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which is poised to buy a 34-per-cent stake in Mitsubishi.
"We want to draw a line between those who want to do that and ourselves. We want to stay within the 5 million range," he said. "I'm not jumping at the news of other partnerships."
The stakes are high for Honda, which cherishes its independence as a key to its brand DNA.
Soaring costs for next-generation electrified drivetrains, autonomous driving systems and information technology are forcing automakers to team up and disperse the development burdens.