After devastating tremors in the region, Honda’s Kumamoto factory, as well as the facilities of their nearby suppliers, were closed for equipment and structural repairs.
Making progress on those repairs, Honda partially re-opened its Kumamoto facility two weeks ago, though the factory’s production capabilities currently remain limited.
Now, the latest word from Honda is that Kumamoto will be back to full capacity by mid-August of this year, though it goes without saying that the production time will affect the rollout of several Honda machines.
The Kumamoto factory is Honda’s flagship installation, and it produces many of Honda’s top motorcycles (Gold Wing, CBR1000RR, VFR1200F, CRF250X, etc). Kumamoto is also responsible for other production lines, outside of the two-wheeled segments, such as Honda’s power generators.
While most of Honda’s 2016 units have already been produced, for American riders the closure will affect most the 2016 Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L production and delivery to dealers.
Honda’s initial shipment for these bikes is already in transit from Japan, however the timing of the earthquake comes mid-stream of the Africa Twin’s production run for North America.
It’s hard to estimate at this time how log it will take for Kumamoto to begin pumping out Africa Twin motorcycles with regularity, though we will do our best to keep you apprised of when that eagerly awaited ADV bike will be delivered in-full to US dealers.
Africa Twins aside, perhaps the most important aspect to the timing of the Kumamoto factory’s closure, and its gradual re-opening, is that it will surely affect the factory’s production schedule for 2017 model year bikes.
Logic would dictate that this disruption in production will likely affect all the 2017 models planned for production across the board, including the highly anticipated and expected successor to the Honda CBR1000RR superbike.
We can only speculate as to how Big Red can shuffle the production schedule for machines in its factories, and some of that shuffling is limited to what Honda’s suppliers can accommodate as well – an important point to remember.
It goes without saying though that if Honda’s next-generation superbike is delayed in production form, then that could adversely affect the company’s racing efforts, both at the national and international level.
Each day that ticks by for the Kumamoto factory is a day that will need to be made up in other production capacity. Whether Honda’s factories can pickup the slack, or the Kumamoto factory can absorb the time lost, it all remains to be seen.
While this surely isn’t the news that Asphalt & Rubber readers will want to hear, especially those waiting for their Honda Africa Twin motorcycles to arrive, A&R would like to remind everyone that the Kumamoto region has been devastated by this natural disaster, and that there are more important issues at hand than simply getting back to making motorbikes.
We have continued thoughts for the residents and workers in the Kumamoto region, as they work through this difficult time.