Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it has started selling the HondaJet in Japan and plans to begin delivering the small business aircraft from the first half of 2019 at the earliest.
The Japanese automaker started taking orders the same day for HondaJet Elite, an upgraded model with a capacity of up to seven passengers, with a price tag of $ 5.25 million. With improved fuel efficiency, the plane has a range of 2,661 kilometers, it said.
It can depart and arrive at 84 domestic airports and fly directly to and from East Asian cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Seoul, it said.
HondaJet has already been sold in Europe and the United States, while the company has been also taking orders in China.
Honda delivered 43 of them in 2017, the largest number in the world in the category of small business jets.
“We would like Japanese people to also use the HondaJet which has been highly evaluated globally,” Honda President Takahiro Hachigo told a press conference in Tokyo.
Honda said it applied to the transport ministry for safety certification, which is needed to fly the aircraft, in May. Marubeni Aerospace Corp. has been appointed to sell and provide servicing and maintenance of the aircraft in Japan.
Aspired by late Honda founder Soichiro Honda’s dream to enter the aviation industry expressed in the 1960s, Honda started development in 1986. The first HondaJet for mass production successfully made its maiden flight in the United States in June 2014.