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Honda Aus pushing for next-gen Accord

Plugged in: GoAuto drove a pre-production Accord with Honda’s next-gen PHEV drivetrain back in 2015, and the tech could show up on the next version of the mid-sizer.

Accord is in Honda’s mid-term plan, but business case must stack up

15 May 2017

HONDA Australia says it is committed to offering the next-generation Accord in the local market, despite the dramatic drop in sales in the mid-size passenger car segment.

The 10th-generation Accord sedan is expected to surface later this year and roll out in major global markets such as the Unites States either later in 2017 or early 2018, putting a likely Australian launch late in 2018 or early the following year.

While Honda Australia director Stephen Collins acknowledged the sliding sales in the mid-size segment, he said the car-maker “absolutely” wanted the next-gen Accord as part of its line-up.

“Look … it's a very tough segment,” he said at the Civic hatch launch in Adelaide last week. “We were at a dealer conference last week, and I remember quoting ten years ago that (total mid-size) segment was 100,000 units, and 50 per cent of it was private buyers, so 50,000 units.

“During that ten-year period, it’s reduced by 45 per cent. And of the 27,000 that are now sold privately, I think like 30-40 per cent would be (Toyota) Camrys that are selling for $26,990 or something like that. So it’s a very tough segment.

“But it’s a nameplate that’s been in our market forever. So we’re currently looking at what we do with the next model. We haven’t made any decisions as yet, but it’s a tough segment.”

When questioned about whether the new-gen model would definitely make it to Australia, Mr Collins said it was “certainly still in our plan”.

“It’s how we can make it stack up. So, it needs to be competitive and it needs to have a clear role. So, it’s still in our plan for sure. It’s just that what we’re trying to work out is how do we position it? How do we price it? How can we spec it? What engines can we get? We’re just trying to work through all that now.”

Mr Collins confirmed that it was still in the company’s mid-term three-to-four-year plan to bring the car in, adding that he “absolutely” wanted to put together a successful business case for the Accord.

“There are occasions when, if we can’t make the business case stack up, things can fall out. So, it’s our job to make the business case stack up.”

Mr Collins explained the role of the next-gen Accord in Honda’s Australian line-up.

“I'm not saying necessarily this where we are today, but what we want it to dois to be our flagship sedan. And we want to showcase the best technology in that car. I think that's important.” The next Accord is expected to follow the lead of its smaller Civic stablemate with a shift in exterior design from the safe and conservative look of the ninth-gen car that is still on sale, to a more dynamic and sporty looking model.

It looks set to share the modular platform of the new Civic and forthcoming CR-V, and while powertrains have not been confirmed, it is likely to be offered with Honda’s next-generation petrol-electric plug-in hybrid system that GoAuto sampled back in 2015.

When pressed on whether the PHEV would be offered Down Under, Mr Collins said: “We haven't made that decision at all.”

Overall sales – private and business and fleet – in the sub-$60,000 mid-size passenger segment was 51,151 units last year, a 1.9 per cent dip over 2015, but well off the 67,775 units sold a decade earlier in 2006.

Last year Honda sold 719 Accords, a 26.5 per cent drop over its 2015 result, and, in the first four months of 2017, it has found just 121 new homes, a 52.7 per cent dive over the same period last year.

These numbers are sharply contrasted with the Accord’s haul in 2006, when Honda sold 6702 Accords and 10,013 examples of the Accord Euro, which has since been phased out.

The best seller in the segment remains the Camry, with 6274 sold this year, which will be its final year as an Australian-built car before switching sourcing to Japan when Toyota shuts its local factory in October.

It is followed by the Mazda6 on 1190 units, which is being tailed by the resurgent Ford Mondeo on 1146. The Volkswagen Passat (846) and Subaru Liberty (782) make up the top five best sellers in the segment so far this year.

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