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Civic hatch hindered

AWOL: Mainstream versions of the Civic hatch are unlikely to appear here.

Despite a strong dollar, an even stronger pound will keep the Civic hatch from Oz

25 Feb 2008

HONDA is looking increasingly unlikely to import the mainstream versions of the current-generation Civic hatch to Australia, as unfavourable currency exchange rates make its importation untenable.

Honda says it is acutely aware that over half of all buyers in the biggest single passenger segment in Australia prefer a hatchback.

The company has not competed in the $20,000 to $35,000 segment against the likes of the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Holden Astra and Volkswagen Golf since the demise of the Japanese-built EU Civic Vi in January 2006.

Speaking to the media at the CP-series Accord’s launch last week, Honda Australia managing director and CEO Yasuhide Mizuno told journalists that the Civic hatch would still be too dear if it were introduced to Australia now.

“The exchange rate... is still one of its biggest issues,” he said.

“We are still regularly talking with Honda UK. But there is still too much difficulty with the exchange.” As the current model Civic hatch – introduced in Europe in 2006 – is only manufactured in England, there is no chance that Honda Australia can source it from anywhere else more cheaply.

The mainstream Civic models that Honda does sell here, the petrol-powered four-door sedans, are brought in from Free Trade Agreement nation partner Thailand, meaning that the zero import duty it attracts is passed on to the customer as a very competitive pricetag against other small-cars in the segment.

Of course, the top-line three-door Civic Type R is also out of the UK, but Honda can justify its $40,000 pricetag because of the high levels of performance it has against similarly-priced rivals like the Volkswagen Golf GTi.

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