[Insights] GAC Honda Axes 900 Jobs in Response to Electric Vehicles Revolution

Honda, the Japanese automotive giant, is set to lay off around 900 employees from its Chinese joint venture, GAC Honda. This move comes as the company adjusts to the shifting market focus towards electric vehicles (EVs). Notably, this marks the first instance of job cuts in the 25-year collaboration between Honda and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (GAC).

TrendForce’s Insights:

  1. Independent Brands in China Ascend but Japanese and Chinese Joint Ventures Decline

As per GAC Honda’s released data, the cumulative production and sales figures for the first ten months of 2023 witnessed a significant drop of 20.52% and 21.55%, totaling 520,500 and 499,400 vehicles, respectively. Apart from GAC Honda, both GAC Toyota and FAW Toyota have embarked on plans to scale back production or streamline personnel. Mitsubishi Motors announced officially to exit the Chinese market in October 2023, with GAC Aion taking over its factory.

Despite efforts by Japanese automakers to catch up EV revolution, the competition from independent brands remains formidable. GAC Honda and Dongfeng Honda introduced pure electric models like e:NP1 and e:NS1 in the Chinese market. GAC Toyota and FAW Toyota also entered the EV market with models like bZ3 and bZ4X.

However, facing intense competition from independent brands, joint ventures struggle to maintain market share. According to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) data, independent brands claimed 60% of the market share in October 2023, while joint venture brands dropped below 40%. This is a stark contrast to two years ago when independent brands held only 41.2% of the market.

Constrained by the cautious approach of Japanese automakers to vehicle electrification, joint ventures lack a robust lineup of pure electric models, relying mainly on hybrid models. Despite the hybrid technology’s strength in Japanese automakers, they are gradually losing ground to independent brands like Geely and BYD, resulting in a steady decline in joint venture brands’ market share.

  1. Japanese Automakers Urged to Collaborate Openly with Chinese Counterparts

The hybrid models and brand strength of Japanese automakers continue to command a presence in the market, due to current challenges such as EV high prices and range anxiety. However, in the mature Chinese market for pure electric vehicles, Japanese automakers must cede more control over the development of joint venture models to Chinese manufacturers. An example of successful collaboration is Dongfeng Nissan’s Venucia, which is based on Dongfeng Motor’s technology, blending Chinese manufacturers’ expertise with Japanese automakers’ brand strength.

Japanese joint venture brands face challenges, highlighting the necessity for innovative advancements in model technology amid the new energy vehicle era. Faced with the trend towards higher intelligence and electrification in new energy vehicles, Japanese automakers must recognize that their current priority is not to surpass Chinese manufacturers but to navigate the electrification wave successfully. Joint venture brands act as a crucial lifeline, and Japanese automakers can bridge the technological gap by leveraging joint venture platforms, utilizing resources from Chinese manufacturers, and fostering collaboration. The key lies in Japanese automakers transitioning from market development leaders to active learners.


[News] Mitsubishi Motors Pulls Out of China Production Amid Sluggish Sales

In response to persistently low sales and failure to meet production targets, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors has announced its exit from local car production in China. The company has also revealed plans to invest up to 200 million euros in Renault’s EV venture, Ampere.

Mitsubishi Motors made this announcement in a press release following a board meeting on the 24th, which includes terminating production of Mitsubishi-branded vehicles in China.

The company cited the rapidly changing market of the Chinese automotive industry over the past 2-3 years, with a swift transition to EVs and significant shifts in consumer brand preferences. Despite launching a new model in December 2022 in an effort to boost sales, Mitsubishi struggled to meet its sales targets. Furthermore, the joint venture, GAC Mitsubishi Motors, has suspended operations at its Changsha plant in Hunan province since March 2023 to adjust inventory.

GAC Mitsubishi Motors is a company jointly established by Mitsubishi Motors, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Group), operates the Changsha plant, the sole new car production facility in China for Mitsubishi Motors. The company will transfer its entire shareholding in GAC Group, which ends Mitsubishi’s involvement in the local production of Mitsubishi-branded vehicles in China. Following this, GAC Mitsubishi Motors will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Guangzhou Automobile Group, and its EV brand, Aion, will continue to utilize the Changsha plant.

Mitsubishi Motors stated that it will maintain cooperation with Mitsubishi Corporation and the GAC Group to provide after-sales service to customers. As for the structural reform measures, the company anticipates recognizing a special loss of 24.3 billion yen in the fiscal year 2023 (April 2023 – March 2024) financial statements. However, this special loss has been partly factored into the previously announced financial forecast for the fiscal year and will not result in any changes at this stage.

Mitsubishi Motors currently estimates that its consolidated revenue for the fiscal year will increase by 13.1% year-on-year to 2.78 trillion yen, while its consolidated operating income will decrease by 10.8% to 170 billion yen and consolidated net income will decrease by 34.8% to 110 billion yen.

Furthermore, on the 24th, Mitsubishi Motors announced its investment in “Ampere,” the EV venture established by the Renault Group. The investment could reach a maximum of 200 million euros. Mitsubishi Motors intends to strengthen its EV research and development and expand its EV product lineup through this partnership. The company will procure EVs developed and produced by Ampere for sale under its Mitsubishi Motors brand, initially targeting the European market.

Ampere is a separate entity formed by Renault for its EV business, with plans to go public in 2024. Besides Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan has also committed to a maximum investment of 600 million euros in Ampere, and semiconductor giant Qualcomm has expressed its intention to invest as well.

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(Image credit: GAC Mitsubishi Outlander 2022)


[News] Mitsubishi Motors Ceases Car Production in China, Possible Takeover by GAC Aion

As reported by Nikkei Chinese, Mitsubishi Motors from Japan has made the decision to halt car manufacturing operations in China. This move comes as Mitsubishi Motors engages in final discussions with its local joint venture partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Motor).

In China, Mitsubishi Motors has been struggling with reduced sales due to the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) and the increasing appeal of local brands. This strategic shift might have wider implications for other Japanese automakers. What lies ahead for the production facility originally situated in Changsha, Hunan?

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