The expansion plans include the opening of Honda’s first new plant in its home market of Japan in a quarter of a century: a $640m facility in Saitama, outside Tokyo.

A $140m engine plant is due to open in Ontario, Canada, in 2008, as is a $400m US plant. Indiana and Ohio are said to be competing for the new facility – Honda’s sixth in the US – which will employ 1500 workers and produce 200,000 vehicles a year.

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Honda officials have told reporters they are in the last stages of securing a mid-western site but have not confirmed where it is.