Honda Motor to Stop Making, Selling Solar Panels From Next Year

Honda Motor Co., Japan’s third-largest automaker, will stop manufacturing and selling solar panels from early next year amid falling prices of competing silicon-based products.

The Tokyo-based company will dissolve Honda Soltec Co., a wholly-owned solar unit set up in December 2006, it said in a statement today. Honda makes its panels using copper, indium, gallium and selenium, known as CIGS, compared with rivals that use silicon.

“The solar business is such a competitive field,” Tetsuo Iwamura, executive vice president at the company, said today at an earnings press conference. “Silicon-based panels used to be expensive but prices have come down quite a bit,” contrary to the company’s expectations, he said.

Solar Frontier K.K., a unit of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., also makes panels using CIGS technology.

The automaker’s second-quarter profit rose 46 percent to 120.4 billion yen ($1.2 billion), it said today. The results fell short of analysts’ estimates amid slowing motorcycle sales and demand in Southeast Asia.

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