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Diesel to push Honda CR-V sales

Good numbers: Likely competitive pricing and free supply means Honda is counting on about one-fifth of all CR-V customers to choose the diesel.

Honda shoots high for CR-V, aided in no small way by forthcoming UK-built diesel

Honda logo22 Nov 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HONDA Australia projects strong demand for its forthcoming British-built CR-V diesel will combine with unfettered supply of the just-launched petrol variants to return it to the pointy end of the compact SUV sales chart.

Honda Australia director and general manager for sales and marketing Stephen Collins told GoAuto at the launch of the petrol-powered fourth-generation model in Adelaide this week that there is no reason the diesel couldn’t add at least 200 units to the 1000 petrol CR-Vs it forecasts to sell each month when it launches later next year.

This is despite the expected price premium brought on by the more expensive turbo-diesel engine technology, as well as the higher cost of European sourcing.

A monthly figure of 1200 total sales would place the CR-V right in the thick of it amongst top-selling rivals like the Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4, each of which roughly averages between 1000 and 1500 sales per month this year.

Honda’s CR-V sales goal will be made tougher by a host of rival activity between now and early 2013, including the arrival of next-generation Mitsubishi Outlander, Forester and RAV4 models, plus a more powerful petrol engine for the CX-5.

15 center imageLeft: Honda Australia's Stephen Collins.

Honda is expected to follow the pricing structure of arch enemy Mazda – whose CX-5 all-wheel-drive diesel automatic starts around $40,000 – after confirming the CR-V diesel range will be limited to upmarket specification with AWD and automatic transmissions-only.

“We haven’t said what the price would be, but it will be (positioned to achieve maximum) volume,” Mr Collins said.

“I will be disappointed if we don’t do a couple of hundred CR-V diesels per month when it comes. And we are willing to price it appropriately. It shows we can position very competitively, despite the car coming out of Europe.

“The strength of the Aussie dollar, we believe, will continue to be strong going into the foreseeable future, and as we’ve done with the Civic hatch – sourced from Swindon at $21,490 driveaway – I see no reason why the (CR-V) diesel won’t be good value for money.” Even relying purely on the just released petrol models in 2.0-litre front-drive and 2.4-litre AWD guises, the new CR-V will be front and centre in helping Honda hit its goal next year to sell 50,000 units.

That will be up from the 40,000 units earmarked for this year, which is about the same as Honda managed in 2009 and 2010, but is well down on its 2007 record of 60,529 sales.

“(CR-V) is a hugely important model for us,” Mr Collins said.

“Going into next year it will be one of the core models of volume. There is a huge owner base – over 133,000 units sold – and a lot of customers waiting for the new one… it will become one of the core foundations for 50,000 units for us next year.” It will only be when fresh metal like the still-secret Jazz-based crossover SUV arrives in 2014 that the company believes it will sail past the 60,000 mark again.

Stock shortages caused by the Thailand floods last year meant supply of the outgoing CR-V was severely constrained for most of 2012, with sales trickling along at only about 300 units per month creating a groundswell of demand for the newcomer.

“We’ve had a tough six months or so with the outgoing car, but we’ve already had over 500 firm orders for the new CR-V,” Mr Collins said.

The last time Honda’s long-lived compact SUV sold over 1000 units per month was in 2007, when it found 12,642 customers.

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